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Help Desk Value
It is easy to underestimate the value of a companys help desk or to discount its place as an integral part of business operations. A help desk deals with critical issues of customer satisfaction and return business. Businesses often take help desks for granted and do not give them the attention that they need. How can help desk management show the value of their operations within the larger scope of the business and other functions that are deemed more critical? There are actually a number of ways that managers can analyze particular help desk projects to help illustrate their value and demonstrate the value-added nature of the help desk in general.

Justifying a specific help desk project is oftentimes a matter of breaking it down into its individual components, describing each, and then analyzing them in terms of the help desks overall goal or mission. The following tips can assist the help desk manager in doing this.

First, the scope of the project can be measured by examining its individual parts including its various phases, the milestones that will be used to measure it, and the planning methodologies that will be used to accomplish it. Examine whether or not the project investment has a measurable impact on the performance of the business in a general sense. If not, it may not be a justifiable project on which to embark.

Measurable goals need to be developed, but in addition, it s also important to indicate how progress toward those goals will be tracked. A logical progression of steps to accomplish a particular goal, with benchmarks along the way, is more convincing that just asserting that something will be done. Each part of the project may impact the business in different ways. Therefore, each part must be described qualitatively, along with its performance measures.

The individuals who are using the investment in a particular project should be interviewed. The question to ask is, how will it affect their performance? There is no doubt that a certain amount of project time will be dedicated to quantifying its expected value, the derived benefits, and determining how progress is being measured. Generally 5-10 percent of the entire project time and budget will be used top measure and justify the project. The managers should explain the project in terms that everyone can understand. In other words, does it provide productivity gains for customers or are there dollars to be saved by accomplishing it?

Baseline performance should be calculated and that necessitates gathering the necessary data beforehand. The value projections and project targets should be reviewed with both business executives and project stakeholders before it begins. Prior planning needs to take into realistic account the time needed to achieve particular performance targets. A communication plan to convey the benefits of investment and the status of the project must be developed. It can be very helpful to have a project champion at the executive level that will help with sponsoring the project and in removing barriers imposed between it and success.

Customer feedback needs to be gathered and taken into account. Targets and deliverables should be modified based on that input. It is critical to measure the beginning baseline and compare actual and target numbers over time. These numbers should be shared with stakeholders on a regular basis, to give them a sense of continued involvement. All of these suggested steps can help to establish and justify the value of a particular project within the scope of the rest of the business.


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