Project task

IFS410 – End User
Chapter 7
User Support Management
Reasons to Study
User Support Management
 Applicants for support positions need to
understand the managerial perspective
 Support specialists in small organizations
often perform management tasks
Project lead or coordinator tasks
Supervisory or lead worker responsibilities
User support group management
Common User Support
Management Concerns
 Mission statement
 Performance measures
 User support staffing
 Training for user support staff
Example of a User Support
Mission Statement
 A mission statement is a list of guiding principles that
communicate support goals and objectives to staff, users,
and management
 Example:
The mission of the user support group is to: (a) maximize
operational efficiency among users in an organization by
providing timely resolution to technology use questions and (b)
effectively manage problems to continuously improve the:
quality of support services to users
usability of information systems
effectiveness of documentation and training
users’ satisfaction with support services
User Support Performance
and Justification
 Performance statistics are objective summary information
about the user support or help desk operation
 Examples
 Average response time to incidents (wait time)
Percent of incidents abandoned (abandonment rate)
Average resolution time for incidents
Percentage of problems that could not be resolved
Percentage of closed incidents that had to be reopened
Use of Performance Statistics
 Most useful when compared across days,
days of week, or months to display trends
 Can be used for an entire support
organization, a help desk team, or to
compare employees’ performance
 Often used to justify the need and budget for
support services
User Satisfaction Survey
 User satisfaction survey is a questionnaire to measure
how satisfied users are with support services
 Contents
General questions about support services
Questions about specific support staff members’ performance
 Methods
 Follow-up phone call
 Mailed questionnaire
 E-mailed questionnaire
 Web-based survey
Justifying User Support
 User support in an organization’s budget may be a
 Cost (or Expense) Center – justification more difficult
 Income (or Revenue) Center – justification easier
 Justifying user support as a cost center
 Performance statistics
 User satisfaction surveys
 Justifying user support as an income center
 Revenue based on support level
 Free support (no income)
 Fee-for-service (pay-as-you-go income)
 Premium support (stable contract income)
Staffing a Help Desk
 How many help desk staff are needed to
meet the service level demands efficiently?
 Erlang is a unit of traffic (such as user calls)
in a given period of time
 Erlang calculations are used to estimate the
number of help desk agents required to meet
peak demand and off-peak times
Steps in Recruiting
Help Desk Agents
Use mission statement as basis for staff planning
Analyze knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs)
Write position descriptions
Prepare classified ad for open positions
Screen applications received for best match with
Interview applicants with best combination of KSAs
Check employment references of interviewees
Common KSAs for
Help Desk Agents
 Hardware, operating system and application software
knowledge and experience
Specific technical skills
Network skills and experience
Internet and Web skills
Troubleshooting and problem-solving skills
Communications, listening, writing, and telephone skills
Ability to work as member of a project team
Understand business information systems and business
Employment Interview Tools
 Knowledge and skills test measures an
applicant’s knowledge and problem-solving
 Interview questions about applicant’s
educational and work background and
 Scenario questions give interviewee
representative problems to solve
User Support Staff Training
 Staff training for help desk agents includes
New employee orientation
Orientation to the company and support organization
Payroll and job benefit information
Specific job skill training
Support group policies and procedures
Performance appraisal criteria and procedures
Professional development and career opportunities
Ongoing training
Requires scheduled down-time for agents
Performance Appraisals
for Support Agents
 Performance appraisal is a process to evaluate a
support agent according to established criteria
Related to support mission statement
Related to position description
Related to employee’s professional growth objectives
 Common performance appraisal tools
 Performance statistics
 Monitored calls
Managing a User Support Project
 Agents primarily perform routine operational
 Special projects are support tasks that do
not occur regularly
 Characteristics of special projects
Steps and procedure not well-defined
Usually take longer to accomplish
Often more complex than routine support
Examples of Special Projects
 Develop or update product standards or support
Select and install new hardware or software
Plan a new training facility
Upgrade PC hardware, software, or networks
Select and install a help desk management system
Develop end-user documentation or training session
Project Management Steps
 Project management is a step-by-step work plan
and process to reach a specific goal
 Steps
1. Project definition
2. Project planning
3. Project implementation
4. Project monitoring
5. Project termination
Step One: Project Definition
 Project definition describes the project
scope, including
Goal(s) (objectives, outcomes)
Tentative calendar (timelines, due dates)
Tentative budget (estimates)
 Project goal is a specific, measurable result
that is the ultimate target or outcome
Step Two: Project Planning
 Purpose:
 divide a project into tasks
 estimate a time for each task
 identify available resources and costs
 assign resources to tasks
 Project task is a specific action or objective that must be
performed to reach the goal
 Project plan is a document that describes project tasks,
resources, timeline, and costs
Analysis of Project Risk Factors
 Project risk factors are an analysis and assessment
of the problems that can arise during the life of a
 Common risk factors
Poor initial estimates of schedule, costs, resources
Unanticipated events
 Illness
 Hardware problems
 Conflicts among participants
Step Three: Project
 Project implementation is the work on each
task or objective according to the
assignments and schedule in the project plan
 Project manager’s responsibility shifts
from planning to coordination
to resolving problems and conflicts
Step Four: Project Monitoring
 Project monitoring assesses the status of all project
How much work has been completed?
What work remains to be done?
Should staff and other resources be reassigned?
What impact will changes have on completion date and
 Scope creep is the tendency for a project to grow or
change in unexpected ways that increase the time
frame, resources and costs
Step Five: Project Termination
 Project termination is the final step during
Completion is communicated to stakeholders
Final report is prepared
Performance of the project and participants is
Project Management Tools
 Project management software tools
Microsoft Office Project Professional 2003
 Kidasa Software’s Milestones Simplicity 2002
 Gantt chart is a project planning tool that displays basic
information about each project task as a horizontal bar on a
 Predecessor task is an activity that must be completed
before another task can begin
 Critical path is the sequence of project tasks that must be
completed on time to meet the project’s completion date
User Support Certification
 Certification is an assessment process to measure and
document employee knowledge and skills
 Individual certification
Formal education
Vendor-specific product knowledge
Industry-standard (vendor-neutral) knowledge
 Certification of an entire support group
Based on industry best practices, which are procedures,
tools and methods that successful support groups use
Examples of End-user
and Help Desk Certifications
 Microsoft MOS covers applications software
Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint
core and expert proficiency levels
 CompTIA A+ covers PC hardware and operating
systems support and troubleshooting
 Chauncy Group ATS covers core IT skills
 Help Desk Institute HDA covers basic help desk
 Microsoft MCDST covers desktop support skills
including Windows XP and Office applications
Benefits of Certification
 Recognized benchmark of minimum-level job
skills and expertise
 Justification for pay increases
 Justification for promotions
 Documents efforts to keep up to date in field
 Feeling of accomplishment and increased job
Certification Process
1. Acquire knowledge and skills covered by the
certification exam
2. Evaluate skills by taking a pretest
assessment exam (optional)
3. Take certification exam
May include preparatory courses to cover
steps 1 and 2 above
4. Retake parts of certification test not passed
Common Ways to Prepare for
Certification Exams
 College and vocational/technical courses targeted to
popular exams
 Crash courses are intensive preparatory classes
Time consuming
Sometimes called boot camps
 Online tutorial courses use computer-based (CBT) or
Web-based (WBT) training methods
 Self-study courses are self-paced tutorials in a book
Lowest cost
Little help available
Certification Tests
 Traditional fixed-length sequence of questions and
 Adaptive test is a method used in certification exams
that asks selected questions from a computerized test
database that are graded in difficulty to quickly estimate
the test taker’s proficiency
 Asks fewer questions than traditional test
 Takes less time
 Reduces testing stress
 Reduces boredom from too easy or repetitious questions
User Support as a Profession
 ITAA estimates 2 to 2.5 million user support workers employed in US
 Professional association is a formal organization that represents the
interests of a group of professionals and provides services to its
 Publishes journals, magazines and books
 Encourages professional growth of members through seminars,
and conferences
 Offers training and certification programs
 Facilitates membership contacts via e-mail, Web sites, chat
rooms, newsgroups, and local chapters
 Encourages members to adhere to code of ethical conduct
Examples of User Support
Professional Associations
 Help Desk Institute
 Help Desk 2000
 Association of Support Professionals
 Information Technology Association of America
 Service and Support Professionals Association
 Network and Systems Professionals Professionals
Code of Ethical Conduct
(Information Technology Association of America)