by Yvonne Harrison

I first learned of HDI in 1996, when I attended my first HDI conference with my manager. I’d never experienced such a large learning event before, and wow, did I ever learn! I learned that there were thousands of other people doing the same thing I was doing, and not only that, they were willing to share ideas on how I could improve in my own organization. The other thing I learned at that conference is that the “help desk” (and in 1996, it was a help desk; we didn’t adopt ITIL and processes and move forward as a service desk until 2001) could be a career, not just a step toward another IT job. I could build a career doing what I really enjoyed. I started as a frontline analyst and progressed through different roles until I was head of the service desk department, responsible for a $3,000,000 annual budget.

One of the benefits I received from that first conference was HDI membership and access to the content on the website. When they asked me to take the HDI Practices & Salary Survey in return for a free copy, I wanted that document! At the time, my manager and team were investigating purchasing a new ticket tracking solution, and we were wondering if we were paying our frontline agents competitively.

That first report was eye-opening. Not only did I get the salary data I needed, but I was also able to do a comparison of the service levels, benchmark our performance against other organizations, and learn about the processes and tools being used by the majority of organizations. With that information, I began to identify priorities and start improving our help desk.

The salary data, in particular, was critical. As we grew from a ten-person desk to a fifty-person desk, we started experiencing greater turnover, which hadn’t been an issue before. I consulted the PSRs, collected salary information for various roles, and put together a business case for my manager. It was apparent that we weren’t competitive and we needed to make some changes. After working with our HR team, we were successful in increasing salaries for our frontline agents, our second-level team, team leads, and even management.

Knowing what was going on in the industry also enabled us to look at our processes for improvement. We saw an ever-increasing number of organizations adopting two things: ITIL and knowledge management. We brought in ITIL trainers for the team leads and managers. Once we trained our management team, we started training our staff. This enabled entire team to speak the same language, and it put us one step ahead of our customers, who were adopting ITIL as well.

The adoption of knowledge management in 1994 was a cornerstone of our success. We hired two people as our knowledge analysts and set them to work. When talking with customers, we showed them the knowledge tool and how we could build solutions to train our agents more quickly. It enabled us to provide a consistent customer experience, as well as open up access for end users.

Throughout my career at the service desk, I have used the HDI Practices & Salary Reports to ensure that we stay current with the trends in the industry. We track our service levels, metrics, and salary against the information found in this guide. If you haven’t already embraced the value of this document in your organization, I highly recommend that you check it out. It will help you become a better service desk.