(Standard Operating Procedures)
Think of your IT helpdesk as a new student learning a language. They might pick up things quickly at first when things are simple. But as their education continues, they’ll need to refine the way they learn to ensure they’re creating great habits and solidifying a strong approach to learning this new language.
Your IT helpdesk is no different. Things seem easy when you start off. You might have a few ticket requests and everything seems manageable. Very quickly, however, things become complicated, you lose the connection between your development team and your help desk personnel and everything falls apart.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. With the right standard operating procedures (SOPs) documents in place, you can ensure there is great synergy between your IT help desk and development teams throughout your business's lifecycle.
In regards to your entire IT helpdesk ecosystem, having a thorough understanding of how to create SOP documents and how to implement them into your business is paramount. Doing so will allow you to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and flexibility of the services you’re able to offer.
Let's look at how creating and improving your repeatable processes will help you bridge the gap between your IT helpdesk and development team, providing you with more actionable and qualitative data as well as improving the quality level of the services that your business offers.
This will provide you, as a small business owner or IT Helpdesk manager, with a framework to get started as well as some best practices to help keep your competition at bay by running a well oiled team.
Let’s dive in!
What are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)?
Standard operating procedure documents or SOPs are a list of step-by-step instructions that help your IT helpdesk team understand how to carry out specific tasks. They’re used by forward thinking companies who want to achieve maximum efficiency, improve output quality and create a sense of uniformity when it comes to the IT helpdesk support they offer.
Standard Operating Procedures Decreases Training Costs
In your small business, when one of your key support team members leaves, what do you do? The issue you have is that your departing employee's responsibilities now need to be delegated to someone else. Without having SOPs in place, you run the risk of wasting time training someone new to complete these tasks, or worse yet, having no one qualified enough to complete the tasks at hand.
Using a standard operating procedures (SOPs) document helps everyone understand what tasks need to be done and how and when to do them. This means that when the usual person is unavailable or leaves, anyone else on your team can pick up these tasks with minimal effort.
Within the Sherpadesk IT Helpdesk Software, you are able to set up event notifications based on any type of IT helpdesk ticket. This means no help desk personnel is left in the dark when it comes to customer support issues.
You can use this sample template to help you create your own SOPs to help your team stay on top.
Once you establish SOPs within your IT helpdesk team, this will enable any employee to support a customer at any time.
This doesn’t just go for people who leave your company, but new hires too. How long on average do you spend onboarding and training new recruits? Some studies say you should spend the first month to three months on helping a new recruit understand the work you do and the company culture. Why not expedite that process by implementing standard operating procedures? That way they can focus on getting to know your company culture. Don’t leave new hires on their own to learn the ropes and the ways of your company.
Think carefully about how you conduct training. Does everyone follow the same training documents? Or do they all use different sources? Using multiple sources means there’s always a chance that your staff will learn different ways to complete tasks which can present problems down the line. Creating standard operating procedures documents means your entire IT helpdesk team has a sense of consistency.
That’s not to say that you should incorporate SOPs as a substitute for proper training. All it means is that there will be documented processes and procedures ready for any new-hire to access when they please. It encourages the new-hire to complete work independently rather than relying too heavily on their managers or colleagues. For many new-hires, maintaining knowledge the first time they hear it is difficult, so having a document to reference further down the line will be helpful.
Using your SOPs throughout the training process is a great way to make sure your IT helpdesk SOPs are working in the right way. If any part of the SOP documentation is confusing, or hard to understand it doesn’t point to the incompetence of the new-hire, rather a lack of clarification of your documents.
Don’t forget, for some tasks which might appear to you to be common sense, they might actually be difficult or confusing for someone who’s not used to doing it day in, day out.
SOPs Help Scale Your Business
You might decide to grow your IT helpdesk team in the future. To accomplish this, you will need an easy way to make sure everyone is following the same processes. One option is to conduct training sessions to help teach new team members about your processes. But information often gets lost in translation, so a more effective model would be to document all of your processes, allowing you to scale up your IT helpdesk faster and more efficiently.
Because any individual can access any SOP document to find out how to complete a task or how to respond to a query, there is less ramp-up time and your IT helpdesk personnel with the most knowledge won’t spend the majority of their time helping those less familiar with certain processes.
It’s no good to simply look at the quality of your support team member by member, you need to take a completely holistic view to limit inconsistencies. These inconsistencies will stop you from keeping your customers happy and therefore scaling your business effectively.
SOPs Help You Make Improvements and Control Quality
In any human-focused business, there is a likelihood of mistakes happening. That is a given, but it doesn’t have to be constant if you use SOPs as a method of maintaining the quality of service your IT helpdesk provides.
The ideal help desk system would see a degree of consistency with all tasks. Meaning, from a customer’s perspective it makes no difference who they come to for help, as the level of service should be the same.
Due to the fact there are a number of different ways to complete tasks or respond to customers, without documented standard operating procedures, how do you expect to be able to provide consistent, quality service?
So think about whether you have a standard greeting when talking to customers on the phone, or whether you sign off your emails in a certain way and consider documenting these details for all to access.
You also might want to document procedural issues such as how and when to escalate a ticket and how to do so without frustrating the customer ever further.
It also helps you look at who is not sticking to the rules. For example, measuring your employees against the same standards will lead to fairer work reviews.
Protect Yourself from Loss of Knowledge
We all strive to provide the best IT helpdesk experience for our customers, and the best way to do that is by retaining as much knowledge as possible. Think about it. A customer comes to you with a problem to be solved. You cannot remember the correct solution, so rather than stress yourself out trying to remember it or wasting your IT support team's time by asking them, use your SOP documents instead.
We mentioned earlier how you should use SOPs as a core part of your onboarding strategy for new-hires. Doing so will encourage them to reach out to the documents whenever they’re unsure.
Don’t store important details or processes in the heads of few, when you can put them into the hands of many by creating standard operating procedure documents that outline all key processes.
The benefit of using SOPs is that your entire team understands who is responsible for completing tasks and how they should be done.
This leads to an increase in efficiency, safeguarding the quality of the support given and a higher likelihood of a support center’s success.
How you use your staff is just as important as how many staff members you have. Proper utilization of key IT helpdesk personnel will help you make actionable, measurable improvements. But for your SOPs to be really effective, they must be aligned with your overall organizational goals.
It’s very easy to forget about SOPs or even think they’re a waste of time, but they will help you achieve your helpdesk goals and will have a positive impact on the level of training and support you can provide for your employees while still running a scalable IT helpdesk business that runs circles around the competition.