16th January 2015

Managing an Online Helpdesk and the Importance of Meeting SLA

Managing an Online Helpdesk and the Importance of Meeting SLA

As a provider of IT solutions one of PSP’s key business functions is the provision of system support and maintenance for our clients.

Whether it be a website, an Intranet, an off-the-shelf solution or a bespoke application PSP have a wealth of expertise both in a support capacity addressing faults and a maintenance capacity ensuring that systems operate consistently at their full capability.  With the best will in the world, regardless of how highly trained users may be, problems arise and it is the level of support, efficiency and customer care that our clients find reassuring in the event that a problem arises.  The key is to react and quickly provide solutions to ensure that our clients’ business is not impacted by system grumbles or failure.

The Solution

PSP operate a client Helpdesk, a system providing clients with maintenance agreements the ability to log support requests so that they may be classified and actioned accordingly.  Faults can be caused by many things ranging from bugs to data issues and may even be caused by the user depending on the circumstance, or indeed data corruption.  The severity of the issue denotes the level of response required and PSP have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for each client to address issues that are logged.  As a general rule of thumb, if the issue prevents users from completing their tasks or has any financial impact to the client, the support call is treated as priority number 1 and in many cases these types of issues will be addressed immediately with a view to being treated within a 4 hour period.

For lesser impacting issues support tickets are dealt with within 8 hours of the ticket being logged and the success of the Helpdesk relies on tickets being responded to quickly and resolved efficiently ensuring the least possible impact for the client.  It is this ability to react and provide successful resolution that clients look for when identifying and appointing a partner to maintain their systems.

In some instances maintenance requirements may be dictated by the size of the installation and the types of issue that can arise.  Typically a monthly support ‘allowance’ would be decided which is often a set number of hours and, depending on the contract, an element of carry-over may be permitted for unused hours from one month to the next, providing over the course of the contract the combined annual allowance is not exceeded.  Carry-over is often useful for companies who do not have set peaks and troughs in their business but that may require a concentrated level of support at any particular time.

Added Value

At PSP we are hugely concerned that our clients benefit from their return on investment.  While it is difficult to put a price on the reassurance of having support available some clients may go from one month to the next without requiring any assistance.  Consequently PSP will review maintenance usage and where a client has not used their allowances, particularly in instances where there is no carry-over permitted, we may choose to offer minor developments and system enhancements within the contracted hours to ensure that the client fully benefits from their contract.  Examples of these types of added value may include tweaks to websites or the provision of training ensuring that the maintenance contract delivers value for money.

Service Level Agreements

Depending on the business type and the systems in place service level agreements are put in place to ensure the continuation of business as usual activities with the least possible impact to both our clients and their customers.  In almost all cases a ‘website down’ request would be a key priority due to the impact it can have on the business and our clients’ customers, as would be any issue that has an impact on financial performance or the ability to conduct business.  In addition, requests for minor amendments to systems (such as changes to a web form perhaps, which would not impact the companies’ ability to service its customers) may be classified as a less urgent request which would be categorised and dealt with accordingly under a different priority level.

The success (or failure) of the Helpdesk in the eyes of our clients is PSP’s ability to provide swift and effective solutions that cause the least impact to business as usual functions, something that is directly linked to the level of expertise in the systems we support.  It is the speed of our reaction and the effective resolution that meet this requirement, together with reassurances to the client and confidence that issues can be resolved with minimal impact that really provides value to the service.

One of our main areas of focus at PSP is ensuring that Helpdesk requests are addressed within the agreed service levels and measures are in place to ensure the swift and efficient resolution of the issue and alerts for our managers to ensure tickets are dealt with within SLA and that the resolution provided and the time to effect it is a fair and genuine representation of the issue reported.  An example of this is the daily report that our Customer Services department receive each day highlighting tickets closed the previous day, together with time and technical information to review.  Such reports allow an impartial review of the call, the solution and the time taken ensuring that any time logged is genuine and fair, providing reassurance to our clients and confidence in our abilities.

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