Outsourced IT

The difference between Help Desk and Service Desk

Help Desk/Service Desk 

What is a help desk? It may seem like the obvious answer is that a help desk is there to resolve technical issues. Of course, this is true, but there is actually a broad scope of services that help desks can support beyond the obvious troubleshooting of crashes and blue screens of death. The primary objective of a help desk is to quickly and efficiently resolve end users’ technical issues. A help desk is reactionary in nature, as they are contacted at the point when something goes awry. A managed help desk is an outsourced help desk who end users will contact via a ticketing system, phone call, or email, to resolve their technical issues.

What can I expect from a managed IT Help Desk?

Some of the key features that you can expect from a managed help desk are: 

  • A single point of contact (SPOC) for IT support 
  • Automated ticket tracking, routing, and notifications 
  • Basic incident and service request management 
  • Providing level 1 & 2 support, and escalation if necessary 
  • Some possible integration with other IT Service Management (ITSM) functions 
  • Providing basic self-service options for end users 

Some of the technical issues that you can expect a managed help desk to assist with include troubleshooting an application that stops communicating with its integrated technology, assistance with syncing mobile and desktop applications, and the troubleshooting of malfunctioning equipment. 

What is a Service Desk?

Help desks and service desks are often referred to interchangeably, but there are some notable differences. While a help desk is reactionary, a service desk is proactive. The function of a service desk is generally more broad and strategic- their primary objective is to be proactive about managing, maintaining, and improving the organization-wide IT system. You can expect the service desk to be constantly looking for opportunities to improve efficiency by ensuring that the system is equipped with reliable and updated technology. 

Some of the key features that may be provided by a service desk include: 

  • Acting as a SPOC for all IT areas, including business processes 
  • A more comprehensive integration with other ITSM business processes such as incident management, problem management, change management, asset management, the configuration management database, management applications, knowledge management, event management, project management, task management, portfolio management, and finance management 
  • Providing more in-depth self-service capabilities through an integrated knowledge base 
  • Tracking compliance and service agreements 
  • Enabling employee onboarding 
  • Monitoring reports and metrics such as first-call resolution rate (FCR), cost per contract, incident/ticket volume, mean time to detect (MTTD), mean time to resolve (MTTR), ticket trending, and ticket backlog 

The more complex an IT system is, the more likely that an organization can benefit from broader scope of services and oversight provided by a service desk. Since a service desk focuses on the needs of the business and not just the technical issues of end users, the service desk is better equipped to help streamline and oversee a complicated IT system.