We have spent the last few weeks gradually rolling out a new helpdesk system for tech support requests. We needed to handle this delicately, as our small independent school prides itself on personal touch and informality. However, we badly needed a good way to ensure that support requests are visible to all tech staff and no requests fall through the cracks. In the past, we needed to spend weekly meeting time checking in on the status of previous requests.
One key to resolving this apparent dichotomy between our department’s and our users’ needs has been to ensure that users automatically receive copies of internal correspondence related to a user’s case. Any time we add information to a support request history, such as assigning it to one of us, performing some research, or sending a unit our for repair, we note it in the helpdesk system and the user automatically receives a copy. This is a much higher frequency of communication than we were able to manage in the past. Finally, the email templates themselves are highly modifiable, which is more important than it sounds. I joke that adding a Catlin “tree” will greatly increase people’s comfort with the system.
Since we already had Altiris as our Windows deployment solution, we simply activated the HelpDesk component. As I’m usually not a big fan of proprietary, unmodifiable solutions, I was pleased to find that this one pretty much gets the job done. All of the categories and queues are customizable, and it integrates with LDAP and Altiris’ inventory system out of the box. That’s a lot more than I could write on my own in Perl within a reasonable amount of time!