Most help desk software has a box where the resolution to an incident is placed. This tells the person who is going to resolve the problem exactly how it should be resolved. Leaving it up to each individual to use their own language and terms to describe the resolution can lead to errors and delays.
Using standardized resolutions will make your resolutions more accurate, reduce confusion over what the resolution is, develop a common language that will improve communications and make the training of new team members easier.
Your help desk software may already have a method of dealing with this issue. If it does not this may be a solution to improve your incident management process and the final incident resolution.
Why To Standardize Resolutions
As an example a customer calls the help desk because their monitor is no longer working. The help desk analyst troubleshoots the problem, but it is clear the monitor needs to be replaced. The help desk analyst enters a resolution “replace monitor”.
What type of monitor? A LCD for the desktop, a CRT for the security system? You would hope every team member would put in an accurate resolution description, but often this is not the case. Resolution boxes can include information related to troubleshooting that can confuse team members as to what they are supposed to do.
Nothing should be in the resolution box except how the incident should be resolved!
So why leave it to chance. Establish a set of standard resolutions and enforce that that is the only thing that should be put in the resolution box. This type of system has many benefits as you will see below.
How To Standardize Resolutions
PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) is a good business improvement process to use in this case. PDCA at its heart is about quality control and that is exactly what you are doing here. This process improvement method can be used in many different circumstances.
Plan – Define the Problems, Set Your Goals, Develop the Process
In the plan step you will identify the problems, set the goals you want to accomplish with the process changes and develop the new process that will accomplish the goals.
Some common problems are:
- Inaccurate documentation of the resolution to the problem.
- Confusion about what the problem is or how it should be resolved.
- The lack of a common language that makes communications between team members and other teams difficult or less effective.
- Training new team members is less effective without a common language and a standard.
So your goals may be:
- Create resolutions that accurately describe how to resolve the incident.
- Eliminate any confusion about how to or what the resolution is.
- Errors and rework are reduced due to misinterpreted resolution descriptions.
- Develop a common language that will improve communications and training.
Develop the new process:
Create a list of all of possible resolutions and break them down into groups on different sheets. Your groups may be your equipment such as “Replace monitor” or “Replace laptop”. Actions to be taken such as “Test the router”or “Dispatch service company x”. Escalations should be included such as “Escalate to level 3 support”.
For each group go down the list and next to the equipment, action or escalation write the standardized text for what should be placed in the resolution box. The description should be as short as possible, clearly defined and specific.
For example instead of “Replace monitor” list all of the types of monitors.
- “Replace 15” Dell desktop LCD monitor”
- “Replace 17” Viewsonic desktop CRT monitor”
- “Escalate to network support and test the router”
- “Escalate to vendor support and dispatch XYZ to replace the switch”
As you can see these are very specific and for a good reason. You want to eliminate any confusion about what is to be done. Keep in mind that you are developing the common language that will be shared by many teams so keep them clear and to the point.
Each list should be broken down by the type of resolution. For example your equipment list should first be broken down into types of equipment such as monitors, PC, laptop, router, etc. Then under each type list the standard resolution. This will make it easy for everyone to find the specific equipment they are looking for.
Do – Implement Your New Process
You should now have lists of standard resolutions. You may want to just start with one group such as equipment to test the process then expand it to other resolutions.
Deploy on Media
How you distribute your lists will depend on what media types you have available. The ideal situation is to utilize your intranet and have them web based. You can list your groups on one page with a hyperlink that will take you to the next page that will list types.
If this 2nd page is your equipment list it will have the short descriptions such as “Monitor”, “Laptop”, “Router” and so forth each type of equipment with a hyperlink that will drill down to the standard resolution descriptions.
The 3rd page will list your standard resolution descriptions. If it is your monitor page then every type, size and model of monitor used throughout your company will be listed. The team member now only needs to copy the standard description and paste it into the resolution box.
When a team member needs to enter a resolution description they are just three clicks away from a standard resolution that they can copy and paste. Problem solved.
If your company does not have an intranet or other type of electronic media for your lists you can always use paper ones. Each group such as equipment, actions or escalations will be a separate document. If your list is large use a table of contents which will be the list with short descriptions pointing to a page number. On the page for that type of resolution each standard resolution will be listed.
Now train everyone who will either enter or read resolutions on the new system. This is not rocket science so it should be easy. Point out the benefits of standardized descriptions and of sharing a common language that will improve communications.
By nature people are reluctant to change so you will need to enforce the new process. Most will be thankful to have a process where they are not left up to their own assumptions on what to enter.
Check – Is The New Process Meeting The Goals?
The check step requires some form of measurement to determine if the new process is achieving the goals your outlined. You may already have metrics in place that can be used to measure this. Watch for a reduction in rework caused by inaccurate resolutions. For instance the resolution of “Replace monitor” may have caused a CRT monitor to be taken to a cubicle when it should have been a LCD monitor.
Another way to measure is to talk with the help desk analyst, support teams and anyone else who is touched by the resolution to see if the new process is more efficient. Record any issues that you can later evaluate for modifications to improve the process.
Act – Improve and Standardize The New Process
During the check step you may have come up with some issues that require you to refine the process. Keep tweaking and monitoring the new process until your goals have been met. Once they have establish the new process as the standard that everyone will use.
Embrace the philosophy of continuous improvement. Even after the new process becomes the standard business practice, always look for ways to improve it. Lists will need to be updated, groups may need to be divided or new media resources may become available.
Any changes made should start the PDCA cycle over again to ensure problems are identified, new goals are set, the process is tested, then standardized.
Standardized resolutions has many benefits and few drawbacks. By standardizing your resolutions will be clear and accurate. Team members will develop a common language that will facilitate better communications. Training will be easier for new hires and errors will be reduced.
Over time everyone will learn most of the common resolutions by heart and not need to consult the media. Be sure and monitor the system for people not following the process. Always look for ways to improve the process and update it when changes are made.