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Evolving a helpdesk to ServiceDesk Operations

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Journal of thoughts

Some might say the help desk is the heart of IT. This is hard to argue when factoring in its ability to streamline a range of system management processes and effectively support customer needs. From optimizing task management to improving customer satisfaction, I will examine the numerous benefits that come from evolving a helpdesk to ServiceDesk Operations using the right Service Desk software.

Efficient Task Management
A sound
Service Desk system enhances customer service by simplifying the tasks in the hands of the IT staff who manage it. Depending on the software, task management may provide features that allow IT staff to seamlessly create and schedule tasks, assign tasks to specific staff, and share tasks between departments. By providing insight into who's doing what, Service Desk software helps management better assess and distribute workloads.

Better Time Management
The sheer volume of inquiries can make for a pretty chaotic customer service environment. It's often staff and management's inability to keep up with the incoming stream of activity that hinders response times and leaves customers hanging on in frustration. Offering robust ticket options and detailed tracking capabilities, a reliable service desk tool will trim the time lost on the back and forth banter between teammates while enabling managers to keep up with the status of each case. The time you free up is the time that can be spent effectively finding resolutions to other problems.

Generating Customer Feedback

Every organization wants glowing reviews. And while you can't please everyone, even negative feedback can be useful and spun into a positive. Many service desk systems lend a massive hand in gathering this vital feedback with features that fuel the easy creation and management of customer surveys. Most allow you to deploy them on-demand in web and email formats. Some can even be set up for automatic delivery once tickets are closed out. Either way, IT departments have a means of generating valuable feedback that can be used to make adjustments based on insights from customers.

Helping Customers Help Themselves
From the user end, convenient access to self-service resources is one of the best things service desk software brings to the table. Before I raise a ticket, I run straight to their support portal to see if I can find answers to whatever questions I have. Whether you call it a knowledge base, FAQs page, or something else, this concept of centralized, self-service information will cut down on tickets, reduce the workload for staff, and increase customer satisfaction. In 2013, research firm Forrester listed knowledge management as one of the hottest trends in customer service.

Support Solutions for the Future
A service desk system can play an integral role in your data management infrastructure. For example, an IT department can use past complaints and other information logged in the system to create a database of best practices designed to guide staff toward handling recurring issues. It also gives organization leaders a better way to gauge the number of resources that go into resolving these problems. The ability to monitor resource usage will prove handy when it comes time to plan the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Making the Best Impression

In the business world, perception is the reality. So whatever impressions your customers have about you is the image you're stuck with as word travels through the grapevine. Consistently delivering a decent managed service won't mean diddly squat when they feel you're letting them down in the IT department. On the other hand, if a service desk is enabling you to quickly respond to tickets with effective resolutions, customer perception, satisfaction, and retention will improve by leaps and bounds.


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See Ya to 2017!!!

Sunday, December 31, 2017 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Journal of thoughts

Well, 2017 is soon to be least in my time zone. For me, I can certainly say that in 2017 the going up was worth the coming down. It's been another year of growth both personally and professionally. In 2018, there will be many new adventures and experiences. Some I am aware of already and many that are undiscovered.

With that being said, I close 2017 out like this. The past is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is gift that's why they call it the present!!


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On to a new chapter

Monday, December 11, 2017 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Journal of thoughts

Today was my last day at SIFF as CTO. It's been one hell of a journey! I am proud to have spearheaded over 30 major projects in the Infrastructure, Security, and Business Application arena and saw them to completion. I look back at my time here with pride knowing that in the technological sense, it was truly a night and day transformation since I joined.

I've always tried to capture before and after pic's of things because pictures always tell a unique story. Below is one of my favorite photos, it literally represents all the technical transformation I spearheaded.

Next chapter starts in a few weeks!



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Cloud Services for the enterprise

Monday, May 8, 2017 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Journal of thoughts

Most IT staff balance building out more internal and robust IT infrastructure versus utilizing cloud services to fulfill those needs. More infrastructure sometimes means more personnel and overhead if processes aren't efficient and automation of repetitive task are missing, this causes decision makers to weigh that against the cost to determine the value of cloud services to an organization. To balance whether or not the IT service we are thinking of moving to the cloud is a core or unique service to our business versus merely a commodity. Moving commodity services to the cloud, particularly to those providers with highly evolved and transparent security models, are particularly attractive. Most technologist believes that this provides freedom to focus on the technologies that are core business enablers while receiving top-tier service from cloud providers makes the business more sustainable.

Still, not everything with cloud services is perfect. I find that small interruptions in service do happen, and the reason(s) these disruptions occur can be difficult to pinpoint. We as IT Pro's are unable to control the issue or have any real impact on the issue’s resolution. Those experiences can be frustrating as the end-users usually can’t tell the difference between an IT-supplied service and a cloud-supplied service; but they do understand that what they need doesn’t work, that IT gave it to them, and that they want it fixed immediately.

And of course, cloud applications are not maintenance free. We still utilize our resources to manage the applications, including user provisioning, permission management, configuration, and enabling new features for end-users.

I also find those technologies that allow organizations to bridge traditional infrastructure and cloud infrastructure can be troublesome seamlessly. For example, a cloud identity provider that provisions access to multiple cloud applications sounds like a fantastic tool until that provider has a day-long outage, resulting in a very unproductive day for our end-users. These end-users also need to exercise caution when considering what providers will do about backing up data. Most providers will keep the service running at a 99.99% rate, but if a document gets corrupted or deleted and forgotten about within normal operation of the application, there can be no recourse if you haven’t taken additional steps to plan for those possibilities. Numerous organizations that I have consulted with weren’t prepared for that possibility, lost data with cloud providers, and promptly retreated to on-premise solutions.

With the speed of provisioning, the general reliability of services, and the enhanced security benefits offered by the top cloud providers, it’s hard to ignore the benefits that these cloud services can provide. However, it is important to understand limitations and take those into account when determining the right course of action for your organization.


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Developing Soft Skills

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Journal of thoughts

Working in information technology is very exciting to me. It is very rare for me to wake up in the morning and not look forward to coming into work. My technical skills that I have acquired through the 14 years I have been in IT has served me well. At the same time though, we all have other skills that are just as important as the technical skills. Lets face facts here, there are always going to be people who know more than me and who have done more than I have. What sets a successful IT person apart from a non-successful one usually comes down to the other skills they bring to the table.

These other skills are called "soft skills". They are key factors in how you react to situations, talk with people, and approach challenges. Believe it or not, these soft skills say a lot about you and have the potential to make or break your career in the end. The real challenge when it comes to developing these soft skills to work in your favor is that they are so tightly entwined with your personality.

There are many soft skills to develop, but there are three that I have really focused on through my career.

Attitude is everything in business. If you are an optimist, can see the bright side in a sea of darkness, and can follow projects through with positivity and vigor, you will be valued as an employee. Compare that with the guy who views a project in a negative light and complains about how the project will fail through the process. If you are a business leader, who would you rather work with? Most people would agree they would rather have the guy who is positive and brings them up as opposed to the guy who brings them down.

Being positive only helps if you are able to communicate your positivity to the people around you. This counts in not only a verbal sense, but through a written sense as well. Developing this skill requires development in areas like verbal communication, non-verbal communication, and listening skills. This is a soft skill that you develop through the course of your life and career.

Organizations are looking to become more lean. This means they want cross functional teams that have people who are willing to work with others. If you don't play nice with others, or if you view yourself as someone who works better alone, its time to start developing this soft skill.

If you are looking to develop your soft skills, there are many ways to accomplish this goal. The first would be to find a mentor. This can be your boss, a friend, or a leader that you know and respect. We are all more likely to change the way we think and the things we do when we learn from someone who we look up to. The second way is to volunteer your skills to areas outside of your workplace. Take up a cause such as volunteering at a food bank or other non-profit. There are not only soft skill learning opportunities at these non-profits.



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