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5 Ways to Stay Healthy as an IT Admin

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Service Desk

For many of us in the IT Service Management world, our time at work takes up the majority of our waking life. Glued to our technology and hunched over our keyboards, it seems like there’s no time to focus on health in the office. But while having a great career does involve certain sacrifices along the way, your health shouldn’t be one of them. Here are 5 basic and easy tips that will keep you physically and mentally sound at the office.

Health at the Office


 

1. Take a Hike, Literally

Well not literally, but you should get up, walk around, and stretch. We spend on average 40 hours a WEEK sitting at a desk, which can cause muscle pain and have other adverse effects. Stand up and move around every 30 minutes, and always use the stairs, not the elevator. It’ll keep your body awake and your mind more focused. If you can leave your cubicle, take a 15 minute break and walk outside. Mobile apps, like SysAid Mobile Apps, give IT admins the ability to manage tickets on-the-go—so they can take a quick stroll around the block without having to worry about missing a ticket.

2. Posture Counts

Yes, yet another thing your mother was right about: good posture. Sit close to the workstation, put that 2,000 page HTML 4 book you never read under your monitor to keep it at eye-level, and sit with legs at a 90-degree angle resting your feet on the floor. Remember, you're spending 8+ hours sitting in a chair almost every day, so investing in a high quality chair will also help you keep a correct posture.

3. Easy on Your Eyes

Give your eyes regular rests from looking at the screen for about five minutes every one to two hours of computer use. You can stay productive by using that time to make phone calls or set meetings. Customize your view in your IT Help Desk to make lists wider, cleaner, and generally easier to read. SysAid lets you customize lists, service requests, and more--so start by watching how to customize the Manager Dashboard view here. Poor lighting may also be putting your eyes at risk in the office, so make sure to adjust the screen display so the contrast is high and the brightness feels comfortable.

4. Keep it Clean

In the most non-hypochondriac way, I must tell you that bacteria, germs, and other weird microorganism lurk all over your desk. Yes, even that adorable pic of you and your significant other is covered with germs after all those sneezes and coughs that occur at the office. Use disinfecting wipes to help keep your workspace (keyboard, mouse, telephone) clean and try not to eat lunch at your desk. Besides the mood-lift you can get from having a nice, engaging conversation with a coworker at lunch, eating away from it may save you a few sick days. Check out the SysAid Hoover Desk-Vacuum for ideas about how you can keep your workspace clean at the office!

5. H2O Is Your Best Friend

One of the easiest and best things you can do at the office is to stay hydrated. Water helps your body with detoxification and digestion—strengthening your physical and mental performance. If the recommended “8 glasses a day” seems daunting, just keep a water bottle at your desk and you’ll naturally drink more. You’ll be surprised how staying hydrated can even help ease work-related stress!


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FIFA Goal-Line Technology: #Gamechanger

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in General IT
FIFA goal-line technology It is likely that many years into the future, historians will look back at this decade as the time when technology truly penetrated all walks of human life. It is a sign of how easily humans can adapt to the changing landscape of the world in which they live, that people do not wonder at the preponderance of smartphones, Wi-Fi and CCTV. These inventions have and are still reshaping the ways in which we live our lives, but yesterday’s innovation is often tomorrow’s outdated and unwanted tool. In the tech world, we always struggle strive to keep up with the times.
Since the time of the TV remote control's inception during the late 70's, we have increasingly utilized technology to improve upon tasks regularly and easily undertaken by human hands. While some may bemoan the lack of manufacturing jobs today as being a direct inheritance of automated production lines, it is clear that the replacement of humans in favor of machines is a one way trend. This may explain why so many people are looking to enter the IT world—at least there are still lots of jobs for people who are making sure that the machines are still working! Often this machine-human replacement is due to the fact that humans can rarely match the accuracy and consistency in technique and observation that man-made machines are capable of. Certainly sports fans around the world would agree with this sentiment (this would include myself as a proud, football-mad Englishman). As a result, I read with great interest how FIFA recently decided to approve the usage of goal-line technology in the 2014 World Cup. They selected the German provider Goal Control to act as a back-up referee in instances of questionable goals. It seems that this goal-line technology is based on 14 mounted cameras that can pinpoint the precise position of the ball on the pitch and will notify the referee via vibrations and optical notifications if, indeed, the ball has crossed the lines. Clearly 14 eyes have proven to be superior to just 2 and while some may say that the dehumanization of the Beautiful Game is one step towards a sporting disaster, many will feel that this is a step in the right direction. Given how much machines are taking over, even in areas where we never thought that would be the case, it is becoming more and more important for those formerly outside the IT universe to get up to speed quickly…before it's too late. For me personally, now that FIFA has revealed their openness to new technology, my next move is to get FIFA to implement SysAid, even on the playing field :). Stay tuned…
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SysAid Wins the Gold for Most Innovative IT Software from Network Products Guide

Posted by on May 14, 2013 in SysAid
It was a black-tie event in Las Vegas and our brazen VP Customer Relations, Joseph Zargari, took the long flight over there to graciously accept the award on SysAid’s behalf. We're truly honored to have received this year's Award for Most Innovative IT Software! SysAid Wins for Innovative Service Desk
Joseph gave a short acceptance speech that we thought was spot-on to what we all feel here at SysAid. Tell us what you think: Shimon Peres, the President of Israel and a Nobel Peace Prize winner said: "Innovation can help transform barren deserts into flourishing fields and pioneer new frontiers in science and technology." Leading the market with innovation technology is a main goal here at SysAid. By giving our users all essentials in one service desk, we help them stay at this frontier with an efficient software that has the best user experience possible. l thank you very much for this recognition, and I assure you that SysAid will continue to remain current, user-focused, and innovative. Congratulations to all the winners of last week's 8th Annual 2013 Hot Companies and Best Awards!
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Capita – Best Practice Visionaries Or Just Out On A Spending Spree?

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in ITIL
Capita quiet over ITIL The last few weeks have been pretty big for the ITSM industry. First we had the Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS 13 Europe) where the great and the good of ITSM and ITIL gathered. But more importantly, we had the announcement of the results of the tendering process for the best practices portfolio announced by the Cabinet Office in the UK at the end of last year.
These include amongst them ITIL and PRINCE2. The "winner" is Capita – a service company providing business process management and service solutions, with staff based in UK, Europe, South Africa and India. But I say "winner" because already, the industry is trying to determine the future of the brands.

The Announcement

Released in the UK national press in terms as dry as toast, the focus seemed to be on how much this would benefit UK taxpayers, without actually telling a non-IT (or indeed ITIL) comprehending reader what it meant. Somewhat bafflingly, ITIL and PRINCE2 were described as "hidden gems". It would seem that what appears to be the bread and butter best practice guidance across the breadth of IT, have been the IT equivalent of Indiana Jones, scavenging for priceless artefacts. The material in this portfolio is deployed worldwide so describing the joint venture as a direct boost to the UK economy is chronically narrow-minded to say the least. The majority of projects I have worked on as an ITSM Solution Architect have had a reach far wider than the British coastline.

The Reality

Because we work in the area of IT Service Management, it is easy to fixate on ITIL (and yes maybe even PRINCE2) as the centre of the (collapsing) universe, but it is important to realise that the portfolio has a much wider brief. So apart from the surprise at the choice of partner, what will actually change for the ITSM community?

The Potential Evil

Well, perhaps it is a little sardonic to describe it as evil, but ITIL, and its role in ITSM, has been carved out by the contributions of experienced individuals spread across all kinds of industries, with a depth of experience. And when it was owned by the UK Government Cabinet Office, it offered contributors a sense of competitive detachment. What concerns me about the statement by Capita Chief Executive, Paul Pindar, is that Capita themselves expect to bring commercial, technical and innovation skills. Capita are not immune to perhaps less-than-successful engagements and deployments, and I wrote a piece, not even 12 months ago, highlighting some of the disadvantages to trying to innovate within an outsourcing arena.

Silence Is Golden?

Whilst analysts have taken to the airwaves speculating here, and deliberating there – a couple of us observers noticed that things have been most quiet on the Capita front, with just three press releases of note:
  • 22nd April – Capita announce that they have acquired G2G3 – Simulation Training Company specialising, amongst other things, in ITIL Simulations.
  • 25th April – Capita confirmed as joint venture partners with the Cabinet Office
  • 3rd May – Capita acquire Blue Sky Performance Improvement –UK-based leaning and development business
(Both acquisitions for an undisclosed sum). With the exception of the sound bites for the joint venture press release, there has been nothing else coming from Capita since the joint venture announcement.

Future Development

Of course it is too early to speculate, but I find it very hard to believe that one commercial organisation would ever hope to own and drive the on-going development of the portfolio totally in house. But will those established contributors be quite as willing to devote their time to develop content for, effectively, a competitive commercial organisation? Maybe those that will benefit are the more experienced free agents, unencumbered by salaried obligations. But conversely – will this lead to a "gun for hire" mentality? Where will the review checks and balances come from? The portfolio can only remain viable if there remains a level of independence, as opposed to a danger of freezing out all other potential service providers.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps it's a little unfair of the ITSM community to be up in arms, waving their pitchforks quite so early. After all, the new joint venture does not even have a name yet. But those of us who have worked in the industry for any length of time are experienced (or maybe cynical) enough to know that the former methodologies were never a magic bullet in the first place. It will need more than a commercial viewpoint to elevate these acquisitions into the realms of a Pandora's box for the IT industry, whether domestically or globally. And for those who have enjoyed voicing their criticism on validity of ITIL, this may offer them a chance to step up and help play a part in shaping its future. However, this is all just continued speculation until we know more about the plans and get a better understanding of the best practices that affect IT Service Management. I am assuming that the new joint venture will still want to gain from the wealth of varied contributory experience….after all, the almost enigmatic silence will have to be broken sometime, no?
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My SITS 2013: A Service Desk Show with Sensible People Saying Sensible Things

Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Service Desk

Ros and Joe – Service Desk Show

This time last year, I was just about to commence a new career as a writer and ITSM Analyst, and kicked this all off with two days at SITS 2012.

In that year, I have written for a number of IT and ITSM related publications, and the experience was a very different one from twelve months ago.

This time last year, I was walking round, introducing myself as the new girl in school and getting to know the wealth of IT Support vendors, training companies and consultancies on the scene.

I knew quite literally a handful of people.

This time, I could not pass a corner without recognising people I had met at itSMF UK events and regional meetings, vendors, consultants, and the buzz this year was great.


My Highlight

The highlight over the two days for me was the Breakfast Briefing on Day 1: Demonstrating Service Desk Value with Meaningful Metrics.

Panel members were:

Tony Probert - European Managing Director, Cherwell

Howard Kendall - Founder, Service Desk Institute

Rosh Hosany - Global Service Desk Manager

Ken Goff - Consultant and Briefing Facilitator

Dean Coleman - Director of Client Services, UKN Group

The briefing was accompanied with a glossy set of results from a survey, but interestingly the survey was not put to the business, but rather put to the service desk.

There are two key elements to what I’d like to term the mishap of metrics.

Hands up who has configured a system to collect all kinds of numbers, prepared vibrantly glossy decks of graphs, showing what happened?

Now, hands up who has regularly analysed, and formed action plans to address what the metrics show?

The question is—what are these elusive business value metrics?

They are, or at least were, the unicorn of reporting.

It is far easier to pick up on values that are easy to report on, and all the while we believe that it is showing us the value of customer satisfaction.

But let's pick this apart.

If you run an application that needs to be up 99% of the time, and you meet those objectives, you would think you had done yourself a good job, pat yourself on the back and enjoy Happy Hour with the team.

But what if that 1% outage happened on the one day that the application had to run a crucial business transaction?

The truth of it is, there are no easy answers to defining business value.

What it requires is something much more magical than a unicorn.

It requires communication and empowerment.

Communication between the Service Desk and the business to understand why their SLAs are set up the way they are.

And what of the perspective of managed service providers (MSPs)?

They have multiple customers, all with different business drivers, so how do they demonstrate business value, when most of the time their metrics are based on performance?

They are in a unique position, actually, because they should already understand the business even before providing the service.

Their opportunity, therefore, is to show how issues are resolved more efficiently, to bring more of a financial value to the managed service.

There is a real opportunity for companies to evaluate where to deliver real-time data.

Key Points from the Briefing

My key takeaways were:

  • Get close to the business, and work together to understand what the value is.
  • Add that extra dimension to the relationship with the business – not just blindly working to whatever the SLA tells you to do.
  • Be collaborative – become a business partner instead of a trusted service provider.

SITS13 started this year for me with sensible people talking sense, and I look forward to analysing how the ITSM market chooses to innovate in this area.


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Surveys: Pat On the Head, Or Beating Stick?

Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Service Desk

Help Desk surveys

Every now and again, an all-too-rare thing happens to me these days—I get great customer service!

More often than not, bad customer service can leave us even more agitated than the situation we needed assistance with.


It makes me wonder—do we, as IT Service Management professionals, value excellent service more in spite of the fact we work in the field of Service Delivery, or because of it?

Customer service should matter in all walks of life.

Bafflingly, this is not always the case.

But do we ever bother to praise good service, or even respond to surveys?

Although the ability to use an integrated survey function is integrated now into many tools, it is really not as simple as all that!

Less is More

Many organisations get the survey aspect totally wrong.

A prime example is my very own bank, which changed a perfectly good online banking scheme into a cartoon-iconed, effectively dumbed-down service that promptly crashed completely on its first day.

To add insult to injury, I was sent a survey, after having to resort to calling the telephone banking service after the umpteenth crash.

Making matters even worse, given my level of irritation, the survey went on for ever. There was an abundance of questions, and the longer the questions dragged on, the more cutting my responses became until I wrote a missive the size of War and Peace berating the whole system.

Did I ever get any feedback on my feedback – not surprisingly, no!

Why Do We Need to Do Surveys?

To paraphrase Mark Twain: There are lies, damned lies, and in the ITSM world, there are metrics!

But it is equally important to get a feeling for softer metrics of how the support structure is working. And the best people to provide an opinion on whether the service has been good is from the end users themselves.

Targeting Your End User

After-call survey

Please raise your hands if you’ve ever declined to stay on the phone for an after call survey. I know I have.

There is no denying that prompting a caller for an immediate survey means that the user experience is still recent in their minds (unless they have the memory recall of a goldfish!)

But I have always felt uncomfortable with this approach as it feels contrived and sometimes pressured, as quite often you are talking with the person reading out a script of questions about their service to you.

Telephone survey specifically targeted

As with the after-call survey, there is the element of getting an immediate response, and if it is targeted to a specific event or incident, then the feedback is much more focussed to a specific area of improvement.

The disadvantages, however, are that the call may well catch the user at an inopportune time, and perhaps they will be reluctant to provide a call-back time.

Interviews

Perhaps this is a great example of where the ITIL books give you an option of best practice, but either as a consumer of a specific support desk or even as a normal end user outside of wok, I have never had an interview regarding customer service!

The only circumstances I can see this even remotely working, is during the set-up of a brand new desk, and even then, in my own experience it has been largely done over the telephone.

Electronic surveys

This is by far the most common form of a survey that we see, but it always strikes me with a touch of irony that it is probably the most detached method of survey.

One of the most effective surveys was one sent to me by a company after I had to contact them for a replacement.

Why was it so effective?

Help Desk surveys – good or bad?

It actually acknowledged that the customer’s time was precious and just asked ONE question.

That was it, just one question.

Of course, key to this approach is providing an option to add additional comments.

In this case, the customer service was prompt, speedy and very courteous, but the courier service left a lot to be desired.

The use of a single question is not a completely unique approach, though.

At the recent itSMF Service Desk and SLM Seminar in the UK, Greg Stonehouse (Nottingham Trent University) shared how the IT department had totally changed their approach to defining a service catalogue.

But as part of their implementation, they make the customer confirm the service call is resolved, and put in front of that a single question: Was the service good or bad?

Compare and contrast long-winded surveys with never-ending options and worse still, mandatory free text boxes that will not let you move until you have said your piece.

I can no longer count the surveys where I have given up halfway through, even if I have the chance of winning some piece of gadgetry!

Sounds Easy?

Greg Stonehouse made a point of saying that if they ever got a “bad” response, the service desk manager would be on the telephone immediately to understand why.

Indeed in a recent survey where I gave frank feedback about a company’s use of telephone after-service surveys, I was actively sought and contacted by a senior member of the customer support team. So it can work.

And there is more to surveys than just asking touchy-feely questions.

Proper use of surveys lends itself to a detailed knowledge of statistics and historical (and sometimes maybe even hysterical) reporting.

I will admit, I used to call one help desk the “Un-Help Desk” largely because of the stamina involved in a level one call.

Unless I had a good hour at hand at the very least, I would avoid calling them until my laptop had actually died, and I could guarantee a visit to a local site and hand it physically over to an engineer!

But looking back now, I would have skewed all the surveys, because I waited until there was no option but for local help, and thus had relatively good feedback, but probably at a huge loss of productivity.

My Top 5 Thoughts on Survey

  • Go for between 1 and 5 questions—the fewer the better. Do not forget, this is a soft survey to help support more detailed metrics that look at much more than just the happiness of end users.
  • If you are going to follow up (especially less-than-favourable feedback), do so with someone who is prepared to listen and, more importantly, able to outline what actions will be taken, and then follow up again.
  • Teams and service management need to understand that the purpose of a survey is not to provide management with a beating-stick. At the heart of this should be Continual Service Improvement.
  • Keep it simple. Just because tools can provide you with a dazzling array of options, you really do not have to use them all.
  • Praise good service—I cannot stress this enough. Everyone loves a good moan, but how many people actually take the time to say they were satisfied or impressed with how their issue was solved.

There are no right or wrong answers here—businesses and organisations will try and garner as much information as they can to help improve (their perception of?) their service.

These are my thoughts, as an ITSM Deployment Architect and also as an end user and avid consumer.

What are your thoughts?


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Day 2 at SITS13: It’s Been a Whirlwind

Posted by on April 25, 2013 in SysAid
We have been very busy here at SITS13…and I do mean VERY BUSY! Oded Moshe at SITS13
To be perfectly honest, I had every intention of attending some educational sessions during the conference, but our booth has been rocking like crazy and we had crowds of IT experts, Service Desk Managers, IT Directors and more flocking our way—all wanting to learn more about our offering and take photos with Joe The IT Guy. Oded Moshe with Joe The IT Guy at SITS13 I was happy to speak to the dozens of SysAid customers that attended the show and stopped by to say hi and pick up one of our freebies. The small mushroom desk hoovers were a real hit! Giveaways at Service Desk and IT Support Show Proud to see SysAid doing their part to make the world a cleaner place :). I just came out of my session Benchmarking & BI: Sat Navs for Service Desks. With all the amazing speakers at SITS13, luckily, I had a full house. The audience was very intrigued by the subject and was not shy about asking questions. They are actually stopping by our booth right now while I am writing this blog because they want to learn more about our benchmarking program and how to utilize the SysAid Community for best practices and tips to improve. What a wonderful feeling – thanks to everyone who came to listen and learn! During my presentation, I showed how BI and Benchmarking tools help guide the Service Desk and make sure it improves the service you deliver. The presentation and examples will be available in a dedicated blog that I will write shortly, so stay tuned. Here's just 2 of the slides: Oded's presentation at Service Desk and IT Support Show   Oded Presentation IT Service Desk and Support Show There are a lot of vendors showing here today. We are actually getting great inputs on SysAid from people who have seen quite a few solutions in the past 48 hours. They like what they see and I believe we will soon see them join the family as new SysAiders! I also had the chance to spend some time with top Forrester analyst Stephan Mann. Although we spoke over the phone many times before and met a few months back in his office, it was great to meet here at SITS13 in a less formal manner. By the way, Stephen is a top blogger – see what he wrote about IT Service Management Benchmarks. Looking forward to seeing you all at SITS14!
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SITS13 in London – Day 1 on the Exhibition Floor

Posted by on April 23, 2013 in SysAid
At 9 o’clock this morning we were like busy bees taking care of all the last minute details for our booth opening at SITS13. We really didn’t know what to expect. SysAid team at the Service Desk and IT Support Show
And then – BOOM – at 9:30 on the dot, it started. Masses of people entered the exhibition floor and came by our booth (it's Booth 519, in case you haven't already come by) to check out all the things we’ve prepared for you. What a great feeling! Tons of people visited our booth today. Apparently our little hoover vacuum cleaners are a big hit, and who doesn't love green M&Ms to munch on? But really, the star at our booth has got to be Joe the IT Guy. We had people lining up to take a photo with him, including IT analyst from Forrester, Stephen Mann and Ros Satar of course. Check out some of the photos below, and see many more on Facebook – please go and tag yourselves there! Posing with Joe The IT Guy at Service Desk and IT Support Show With so many people asking to see a demo, David and David were talking until their mouths were dry. But all the people are so amazing, it’s terrific. If you want a demo and didn’t get one, please let us know. SysAid Demos at Service Desk and IT Support Show SysAid Demos at IT Service Desk and Support Show Thanks to all who came by today. We are excited for tonight's Meetup at Courtfield Pub. If you haven’t got a voucher yet, please stop by. And don’t forget – we are raffling off an Xbox Kinect as well as an Apple TV. You got to be in it to win it :). Sarah and Joe at the IT Service Desk and Support Show Tomorrow is another day…hope you plan to attend Oded Moshe’s seminar at Theater 2 at 11:40am - Benchmarking & BI: Sat Navs for Service Desks. Cheers!
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Mind the Gap

Posted by on April 22, 2013 in SysAid
The weather has been perfect here in London, sunshine all day, every day! We are all here in Earls Court, CEO Sarah Lahav, Oded Moshe, Ilan Hertz, Elana Katzor (that's me), David Zargoski, David Freeman, and of course, Joe the IT Guy! Might I add, Joe is MORE handsome in person :) Joe getting ready for Service Desk and IT Support Show
We walked down glamorous Regents St. and bought our raffle prizes: the Apple TV and Xbox (with some games!) at the world’s largest toy store, Hamelys, a full seven floors of pure fun, toys, and games! We also made sure to pick up some green M&Ms for our booth—so don’t forget to come by and take a handful. Green M&Ms at the Service Desk and IT Support Show Our booth #519 is also taking shape, and it is looking great. You will soon see how our design represents SysAid, and how it includes all the essentials in one service desk. As we prepare to meet IT professionals from all around the world, we wanted to discover similarities and differences of everyone by asking you all: What are your essentials for your Service Desk? Now, we are off to meet our fabulous customers from the company Oasis located right here in London. Will post pictures of their offices soon! Preparing SysAid booth for the Service Desk and IT Support Show Even though Frank Sinatra said its usually “a foggy day in London town”, we have yet to see one... Cheers!
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Internal Customer Service – Is It Really So Important?

Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Service Desk
I think all of us, as consumers, can easily understand the value of good customer service, and I mean external customer service to the customer. But did you ever think about how important and valuable good internal services can be? Whenever and wherever we travel (by plane, train, or other) , or go shopping, whether it be online or in the physical stores (yes, they still exist people!) – we are consumers and we understand the concept of service and the level we should expect….and it's definitely not the kind of service musician Dave Carroll found on a major American airline:

United Breaks Guitars


What happens to us as employees? When we come to work we understand that we should be provided with satisfactory working facilities and if something goes wrong, we understand that we can and should push to get it resolved. However, the effort invested in getting our issues resolved results in loss of working hours from the person who needs the service and the person who has to give the service. The time being spent on phone calls, emails, and the like, could be very time-consuming. Let's take a moment and look at what SERVICE means. There are 4 main principles:
  • Professionalism
  • Quick response time
  • Transparency of information
  • And always work with empathy and a smile
Whether you are the one providing the internal service inside your organization or not, always think of yourself as a customer. If the service you receive from any department (whether it’s Human Resources, Accounting, etc.) will be based on the principles above, wouldn’t you be pleased? Think about increasing the use of your Service Desk within your organization. A good service desk system is not only for the IT department anymore; it can be a resource for all departments within an organization—helping to avoid loss of time and frustrations. Say, for example, you need service on your company car. You send an email to the person in charge, the very same person who receives dozens of emails a day and simply doesn’t have time to go through his/her Inbox. You then try calling and leaving messages but again – no response. What if your organization’s service desk allowed you to open a ticket about your issue and assign it to the person in charge of the company cars? Wouldn’t this free up your time? Wouldn’t this also be a relief for the person providing the service as they won’t be bombarded with emails and phone calls? With a ticketing system in place, one that is clearly defined and audited, you can be sure that your issue/request will be taken care of, and you are kept in the loop by the sharing of information. Now who wants to join me in making a video called "The IT Guy Wiped My iPhone and Returned It To the Manufacturer Default!" I'm sure it'll go viral :-).
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