How Users Can Avoid Creating Excessive Help Desk Tickets

IT has become an integral part of every business today. Unfortunately, many IT departments are facing flat or declining budgets in 2009, along with tremendous pressure to continue to deliver great service and support to their users. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Michele McFadden offers users tips to help solve some of their own IT issues before contacting the help desk. This will allow the IT department to stay focused on improving services and heading off critical problems before they negatively impact business.


As more IT incident volumes continue to rise-in part because technology continues to become more complex-additional money is not being allocated to meet the increased demand for technical support operations. IT spends so much time on avoidable issues such as resetting passwords, retrieving lost files or chasing viruses. As a result, it's difficult for them to focus on proactive improvements and finding ways to get the most value out of their current technology offerings (without sacrificing service levels).

For instance, it is estimated that 25 to 35 percent of calls to IT help desks are password-related. For this reason, it's important that the technology and business sides of an organization work together to maximize efficiency and keep costs down.

Educating employees on ways that they can help their company's help desk to help them will allow your IT department to stay focused on proactive improvements, rather than putting out so-called fires day and night. In turn, they'll stay more focused on improving your services and proactively heading off issues before they impact business.

Let's review six simple tips that users can follow to help solve their own IT issues:

Tip No. 1: Exercise caution when opening e-mail attachments

When in doubt, throw it out. If you're unfamiliar or at all skeptical about the source, don't open the e-mail attachment. The same holds true for clicking on unknown Web links. For example, never visit your bank or PayPal through a link provided in an unsolicited e-mail. Real financial organizations will never ask you to confirm your password or personal information through e-mail.

Tip No. 2: Manage your data and storage areas with care

Storage space on servers is expensive, so it's important that you know when to archive or back up your data. Once you understand your company's policy for saving data externally, you can either back up data on your hard drive or archive old data to CDs, DVDs or USB drives for safekeeping. By backing up your data, you'll also eliminate the need for your IT department to ever go through the data recovery process-which can be very expensive, time-consuming and cannot always be accomplished (depending on the nature of the hard disk failure).

Tip No. 3: Archive old e-mails and be proactive about managing your inbox

Don't forget to empty your Deleted Items folder daily. Also, use your e-mail filter to see which e-mails are taking up the most space and decide if you need to archive, save or delete the e-mails.

Tip No. 4: Keep your anti-virus scans up-to-date

If it is not automatic, don't ignore those reminders to run your regular virus scans. It's your first line of defense against computer viruses, Trojans and malware that have no other purpose than to delete data or to make your life miserable. When you ignore reminders of virus scans, you open the door for harmful computer viruses that can spread throughout the company. New viruses are created all of the time, so it's important to scan on a regular basis.

Tip No. 5: Help yourself

If your computer is frozen or slow, try rebooting your computer first before contacting the help desk. Also, many help desk systems allow users to fix simple problems themselves or to find answers in a searchable, online FAQ knowledge base. Be sure to check out these options before creating a help request.

Tip No. 6: Use online tools to submit

If you do have to submit a help request, submit it through the online help desk system versus picking up the phone (or hailing the help desk agent in the hallway). Be as specific as you can when reporting the problem to the help desk; document the steps you took to get the error and include information on any recent changes you've made to your PC or software.

Many organizations have a configuration management database (CMDB) that allows IT technicians to monitor all of the hardware, applications and data components (and the relationships between those components) within an organization. Submitting your help requests directly into the system will allow IT technicians to immediately see a more holistic view of your IT environment and, therefore, more quickly resolve your issue.

For example, when the help desk opens your ticket, they may see that the server connected to your PC has already been reported as down, or that other people connected to your printer are reporting similar printing problems.

Following these six simple steps will allow the IT department to manage their time more efficiently, tackle the larger projects that have an impact on the business and, most importantly, deliver better service to the organization.

Michele McFadden is the Director of Product Management for Numara Software. Michele works with sales, marketing, development, customers and prospects to gather and prioritize requirements and define product vision. Michele is responsible for the strategic roadmap for the company's flagship product lines. Michele has driven the product management process since 1999, first as part of the UniPress Software team and then as part of the Numara Software team. In that time, she has been responsible for numerous product releases and worked with industry analysts on reports and public Webinars. She can be reached at [email protected].