IT Professionals – the HelpDesk at all levels

I have been at the new gig just about a month and a half (so about 6 weeks) and it is certainly different from what I had been doing. While some things are the polar opposite of my last job, there is still support to be handled and managed and all of that. Sometimes for customers and sometimes for officemates.

I had been unsure of this portion of what I do, as many in IT are scrambling to graduate from the helpdesk to other roles. It dawned on me recently that IT is a help based career. No matter how much you move around and into new roles, you will always be responsible for helping other people with technology. The level of help certainly changes as does the patience of those who you are working with, but at the end of the day helping others work with technology or use technology to make their lives or businesses better is the role of every person who works in IT.

That sure makes the stress fall off about things I’m working on, both at work and not (there has been a lot of side work as of late). The thing about all this that still baffles me in a way is an industry issue… when I am having a problem with a particular application or service and that application or service touches another piece of technology, many industry players begin pointing the finger at each other, rather than just rolling up their sleeves and fixing the issue at hand.

Just help
Don’t misunderstand the finger pointing comment to think that I have never done that (remember – industry as a whole – and I am part of that) or to think that I believe that everyone working in IT does that. Sure we have all probably done it at some point when it made sense to seek help, and likely we thought that is what we are doing- but the wrong tone when doing the handing off or the external searching for information becomes finger pointing.

I realize that finger pointing is more noticeable between big helpdesk companies, like Microsoft and/or Google, but it exists at some level in all areas of IT.  People kind of expect it to happen, and when it doesn’t or is corrected fairly soon into the ordeal, the confidence level of the customer improves tremendously.

It would be awesome if there were collaboration between multiple parties when there might be a reason to point fingers, if companies in IT would work on problems together to help their mutual customers, maybe people would have more positive things to say about IT.

Think about it, when someone mentions having to call the helpdesk, how many times out of 10 are they displeased with their experience? How many people have I helped who were displeased when I was finished assisting them?  I am sure more than I can count, but few feedback items about service levels reach those providing the service, and when they do the negative ones surely outweigh the positive ones.

I guess my point is this, working in IT is both a hugely rewarding and thankful career and a thankless job where things should just work.  Most of us do not get to tell our users or customers that they are “Using it wrong” and get continued business. This is true when helping someone in a different area of IT and when helping your neighbor with the new computer thing they just purchased. I am hopeful that my outlook will follow the ideas mentioned here and my attitude the same. There will be days when IT is horrible, but they are few and far between and usually the next day is brand new.

There is too much technology to know it all and asking for help is something that is not easy to do. If we have trouble asking for help rather than trying to know it all, how does the average computer user or corporate employee feel when calling the help desk?  Can we as IT professionals change that stigma and be more helpful to all who ask?  Boy I sure hope so.