A help desk is an information and assistance resource that troubleshoots problems with computers or similar products. Corporations often provide help desk support to their customers via a toll-free number, website and/or e-mail. There are also in-house help desks geared toward providing the same kind of help for employees only. Some schools offer classes in which they perform similar tasks as a help desk. In the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, within companies adhering to ISO/IEC 20000 or seeking to implement IT Service Management best practice, a Help Desk may offer a wider range of user centric services and be part of a larger Service Desk.
A typical help desk has several functions. It provides the users a central point to receive help on various computer issues. The help desk typically manages its requests via help desk software, such as an incident tracking system, that allows them to track user requests with a unique ticket number. This can also be called a "Local Bug Tracker" or LBT. The help desk software can often be an extremely beneficial tool when used to find, analyze, and eliminate common problems in an organization's computing environment.
The user notifies the help desk of his or her issue, and the help desk issues a ticket that has details of the problem. If the first level support technician is able to solve the issue, the ticket is closed and updated with documentation of the solution to allow other help desk technicians to reference in the future. If the issue needs to be escalated, it will be updated, noting what was attempted by the technician and dispatched to second level support.
There are many software applications available to support the help desk function. Some are targeting enterprise level help desk (rather large) and some are targeting departmental needs. See Comparison of issue tracking systems.
From the mid 1990s research by Middleton at The Robert Gordon University found that many organizations had begun to recognize that the real value of their help desk(s) derives not solely from their reactive response to users' issues but from the help desk's unique position where it communicates daily with numerous customers or employees. This gives the help desk the ability to monitor the user environment for issues from technical problems to user preferences and satisfaction. Such information gathered at the help desk can be valuable in planning and preparation to other units in IT as well as non-IT departments such as sales and product development.
Helpdesk and incident reporting auditing
The management and support of IT assets is essential for all businesses, ranging from small grocery stores to organizations with thousands of people. Helpdesks are now fundamental and key aspects of good business service and operation. It is an integral part of the service function. Through the helpdesk, problems are reported, managed and then appropriately resolved in a timely manner. Helpdesks can provide both internal and external users the ability to ask questions and receive effective answers. Moreover, helpdesks can help the organization run smoothly and improve the quality of the support it offers to the users.
Objectives of Helpdesk Auditing
Determine if the sufficient controls have been implemented into the system. This will ensure that all problems reported by users have been adequately documented. The controls exist so that only authorized staff can archive the users’ entries. Also, customers should be notified of the timing of the corrective action.
Determine if there are sufficient controls to escalate issues according to priority. In addition, it is necessary to determine whether the trial has been completely recorded and what action has been taken by whom.
Monitor if customer requests are timely cleared. Outstanding requests should be reviewed and actions should be taken immediately.
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