Answers and Explanations
- d. An internal IT help desk is a cost center and its value must be justified. It does not generate any revenue so it is not a profit center. Further, because it does not generate revenue, its value is often questioned.
- c. An incident is defined by ITIL as “an unplanned interruption to an IT service or reduction in the quality of an IT service. Failure of a configuration item that has not yet impacted service is also an incident, for example, failure of one disk from a mirror set.” The other answers refer to incident management.
- b. An incident is defined by ITIL as a “process of dealing with all incidents; this can include failures, questions, or queries reported by the users (usually via a telephone call to the Service Desk), by technical staff, or automatically detected and reported by event monitoring tools.” The other answers refer to an incident.
- c. The primary focus of help desk personnel in a large IT department is to provide support to end users. Many IT departments have administrators that maintain and configure services, as well as network infrastructure devices such as routers. These administrators might also be responsible for security tasks such as installing and updating antivirus software, or the organization might have dedicated security personnel handling this task.
- b. A training division is not a typical division in an IT department. However, help desk personnel often provide training to users, and other help desk personnel. Help desk personnel assist users. Infrastructure technicians maintain network resources such as routers and switches. Security personnel implement and maintain measures to prevent IT security incidents and detect them when they occur.
- a. Tier 1 is the first line of support for users. Tiers 2 and 3 are higher-level tiers within an organization. Some organizations identify tier 4 as an external entity.
- a. A service level agreement (SLA) is an agreement with an external organization that stipulates a performance expectation. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) or memorandum of agreement (MOA) is typically used between entities within an organization instead of a SLA. When SLAs are used, they are often referred to as tier 4 support.
- b. Help desk personnel would typically provide all the services mentioned except for upgrading a server. Other administrators would manage and maintain servers. Internal help desk personnel are regularly called upon to recover data and remove malware. Both internal and external help desk personnel will troubleshoot network problems preventing a user from accessing network resources.
- c. It’s important for help desk technicians to have a mix of both hard skills and soft skills. Without hard skills (measurable technical skills), they will be unable to troubleshoot and resolve problems. Without soft skills, they will be unable to communicate effectively to customers and within the organization.
- d. Communication skills are one of the important soft skillsets required of successful help desk technicians so that they can communicate with customers. The other skills are also required but are hard skills, not soft skills.
- a. Writing is a soft skill that is required of help desk technicians so that can accurately enter information such as problem symptoms and problem resolutions into an organization’s incident database. The other skills listed are hard skills.
- c. The technician should use troubleshooting skills to resolve the problem. It is unlikely that an organization will have flow charts for all problems, so technicians should be able to think on their own in some situations. The technician should attempt to troubleshoot the problem before escalating it. Operating procedures might require the technician to report the lack of a flow chart to management, but not before troubleshooting it. The resolution cannot be documented until it is resolved.
- b. Remote users typically connect via a virtual private network (VPN) and this is the most likely problem they will have of the given choices. Remote users will not connect via the organization’s local area network (LAN) to the remote location. Updating a computer and replacing hardware isn’t a common occurrence and if there is a need, users can typically have it done by coming into the primary work location.
- d. Help desk professionals escalate problems when they lack adequate privileges to resolve a problem. Technicians escalate the problem to the level where technicians have the appropriate privileges. Successful technicians can still help a customer, even if the customer is angry about the situation. Help desk professionals typically have in-depth knowledge about the systems they support. The privileges of the customer aren’t relevant to a help desk professional resolving a problem.
- b. Users are typically authenticated as valid customers in the validating step. During screening, the technician attempts to get more information on the incident, such as additional symptoms. Next, the technician prioritizes the incident based on the available information. Technicians escalate incidents if they are not able to resolve them.
- d. Metrics (such as the backlog and customer satisfaction ratings) are used to measure the effectiveness of a help desk. The costs vary widely depending on customer needs and how many customers are served. A help desk is a cost center and doesn’t generate revenue. Help desk technicians working at the help desk are not the best source to determine its effectiveness.
- b. The backlog metric is calculated as new incidents minus resolved incidents (or subtracting resolved incidents from new incidents). Subtracting new incidents from resolved incidents would almost always give a negative number unless both are equal. Resolution times refer to the amount of time it takes to help customers and is not related to backlog.
- c. Customer satisfaction is the best metric to determine the overall effectiveness of a help desk and is often measured by having customers complete short surveys. The final resolution time can be compared with the first resolution time to identify if tickets are closed prematurely but isn’t the best measure of help desk effectiveness. The backlog compares new incidents and resolved incidents to determine if the workload demand is being met, but without knowing customer satisfaction it doesn’t determine the overall effectiveness.
- b. An incident is closed when the organization has addressed it completely to the best ability of the organization. Customers are not always satisfied because they might not be able to get the help they want simply because the organization cannot provide it. Some help desk ticket systems allow customers to close the ticket, but this isn’t true for all tickets. A technician might escalate an incident or go off duty and turn it over to another technician, but this is not a reason to close an incident.
- d. A philosophy of taking ownership of problems can elevate technicians above others when working on the help desk or anywhere. Just closing incidents isn’t as important because they can be closed prematurely. Working with more customers isn’t as important because it can result in rushed assistance with one customer, while looking forward to working with the next customer. Escalating an incident is simply handing it off to someone else and should be minimized whenever possible.
Define the Key Terms
The following key terms include the ideas most important to the big ideas in this chapter. To review, without looking at the book or your notes, write a definition for each term, focusing on the meaning, not the wording. Then review your definition compared to your notes, this chapter, and the glossary.
Key Terms for Chapter 1
- business skills
- cost center
- help desk
- incident management
- Internet service provider (ISP)
- profit center
- security skills
- service level agreement (SLA)
- technical skills
- technical support
- troubleshooting skills
List the Words Inside Acronyms
The following are the most common acronyms discussed in this chapter. As a way to review those terms, simply write down the words that each letter represents in each acronym.
Acronyms for Chapter 1
- DoS (as in DoS attack)
Create Mind Maps
For this chapter, create mind maps as follows:
- Create a mind map to outline the possible divisions of a large IT department. Start with a circle labeled “IT Department,” draw lines outward from the circle, and label these lines with common IT divisions. Next, add notes identifying the responsibilities of these divisions.
- Create a mind map to list the common tiers or levels of support provided by IT departments. List the knowledge and/or experience level required by technicians at each level.
- Create two separate mind maps to list the skills required by successful help desk technicians. Use one to list the common technical or hard skills and use the second mind map to list the soft skills.
- List as many of the steps in a typical incident process as you can remember. After you’ve listed them, place them in order from the beginning of an incident until the end.
Define Other Terms
Define the following additional terms from this chapter, and check your answers in the glossary:
denial of service (DoS) attack
local area network (LAN)
memorandum of agreement (MOA)
memorandum of understanding (MOU)
metropolitan area network (MAN)
mission-critical functions or services
virtual private network (VPN)
wide area network (WAN)
Case Study 1
Use the Internet to search “incident” and “incident management.” Define each of these terms using information you find from reliable sources on the Internet.
Case Study 2
Perform a search on the Internet using the term “help desk priorities.” List and compare the priority levels used by at least two organizations and their definitions. Notice that there isn’t a single definition used universally. Some organizations use numbers, some use words, and they often have anywhere between three and five priority levels.