The help desk does not have to confine its activities to the traditional roles of reporting faults, password resets, change requests, software advice and so on.
The great asset of the help desk is that it is manned during all working hours so that if any thing needs to be reported it can be done by the help desk, so why not make it the reporting point for building faults, a calling point for first aiders, booking training courses, even arranging to meet visitors in reception and guiding them to their meetings.
This might sound a little unrelated to IT but there is a real value to doing this. The help desk is always seen as the department that you turn to when you are in difficulty.
I have always felt that the help desk should be better known and not always associated with bad experiences.
The very fact that the help desk is expected to cover all normal working hours means that it can be the one place where the phone should always get answered, so if you are seeking help with a Word formatting problem or have severe lacerations and are bleeding to death, calling the help desk should be a life line.
By giving diversity to the help desk it might be possible to retain it in-house. So often the help desk is outsourced and this does not always have positive benefits. We can grow the role of the helpdesk, get it recognised as a profession and maybe attract people who want a career in communication and not to be the poor relation of the IT department.
In these days of wafer-thin profit margins, high overheads and the threat of foreign outsourcing companies, surely it is important to extract every ounce of value from all our teams?