The Difference Between Help Desk and Service Desk and Why It Matters

By Aileen Serge| August 12, 2019

With greater adoption of new technology and the acceleration of cloud innovation, organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their complex and ever-changing IT landscape and the users who engage with them. To maintain a competitive edge, forward-thinking organizations are re-examining how they source, retain, and manage level-one, front-line support, as well as the strategic focus needed to drive innovation and profitability.

When identifying the type of support that will best meet your needs, it’s important to make the distinction between a Help Desk and a Service Desk. More than just a matter of semantics, these two disciplines offer a unique set of capabilities, methodologies, and delivery approaches. Knowing the difference will help you make smarter IT investments and establish better business and IT alignment.

Help Desk

As technology continues to evolve, the need for end-user service requests, monitoring, and management of infrastructure, and always-on-call 24x7x365 support has left internal IT departments with little to no time to focus on core strategy. Thus, the Help Desk was born to alleviate the burden of responding to IT issues. Rooted in break/fix, Help Desk’s primary goal is to help IT teams, but this level of service does not offer problem management or focus on the customer service aspect of support.

With the help desk approach, many of the challenges faced on the front lines of support will continue to be solved in a tactical break/fix manner. With this approach, there is no analysis on reducing incidents, streamlining support, and creating efficiencies. This can lead to employee frustration and a loss of revenue if problem management is not performed.

That being said, Help Desk can alleviate internal IT so they can focus on the long-term strategic initiatives to reduce incidents and create a better user experience. However, if you don’t already have these types of individuals in place, don’t expect your Help Desk to provide this as well.

When to use Help Desk

  1. When the objective is incident management only.
  2. Support needed is tactical only.

Service Desk

The Service Desk was an evolution of the Help Desk, created from the ITSM framework ITIL. ITIL 2011 glossary’s definition of a Service Desk is, “The single point of contact between the service provider and the users. A typical service desk manages incidents and service requests, and also handles communication with the users.”

Organizations partner with or develop a Service Desk in-house to not only focus on incident requests, but also on strategy, problem management, user enablement and adoption, and customer service based on the ITIL foundation which is the framework for delivering exceptional IT support.

Developing a Service Desk will allow key decision makers within the organization to focus on the business and how to increase revenue and reduce cost versus working in a tactical capacity. Utilizing a service desk will ensure key business metrics such as business impact, IT service hours, SLA’s, etc. will be measured to reduce cost and time to resolution leading to a better end-user experience.

When to use Service Desk

  1. When you need a single point of contact for all IT areas, applications, and business processes
  2. SLA compliance is required
  3. Support needed is strategic

Managed Services

For many organizations, meeting the growing demands on IT means developing in-house talent as well as seeking external partnerships to help provide coverage for the depth and breadth of responsibilities and skillsets required today. It’s not surprising that the latest Tech Insight Report shows that 92% of businesses are now outsourcing certain aspects of their IT.

Building training, retaining, and executing service desk as-a-service is a large undertaking and investment if attempted as a part of the internal IT team. For this reason, we’re seeing more Managed Service Providers emerge who can deliver the right people, process, and technology to achieve the desired business goals.

Every organization is different, so it’s important you find a solution that aligns with your specific business context, goals, and challenges. BDO Digital works with you to figure out which options make the most sense. Contact us to learn more about our approach to Managed Services.

The mid-market movement towards IT Outsourcing