Do you know the difference between a helpdesk and a service desk? We can explain!

The world of IT support can often be confusing, with numerous acronyms and many terms used interchangeably despite having very different meanings. Two things that are often confused are IT service desks and IT help desk. Despite sounding almost identical, they’re actually quite different indeed.

The principal difference is that a help desk is there to provide fast resolution to day-to-day issues whereas a service desk has a rather more strategic remit and tends to focus on the overall experience of users. 

Help desks have clearly defined features and scope whereas service desks cover help desk features plus additional capabilities in support of an organisation’s strategy and goals. It could be said, therefore, that help desks are essentially a subset of service desks. 

What is an IT help desk?

The IT help desk is there to support users and resolve problems as they arise. This is a reactive resource and deals with immediate needs, technical issues, and any sudden incidents. An IT help desk offers a single point of contact (SPOC) for IT support, tracking and resolving all incoming incidents, escalating as necessary if speedy resolution is not achievable, and offering basic service/incident request management.

Most help desks will operate an incident ticketing system that tracks all incoming queries and allocates them based upon severity and urgency. They will then be dealt with by the relevant team members. In some cases, this involves remotely accessing machines in order to see and experience the issue that the user has reported. 

Outsourced IT help desks are a great solution if you don’t have internal IT expertise or you need to keep staffing costs down. Many providers offer bespoke solutions with pricing based upon hours of support provided, number of employees, or number of tickets raised. The use of specialised providers can potentially save substantial sums in staff costs and equipment. Outsourcing can also enable an organisation to focus on its key mission without having to worry about technicalities. 

What is an IT service desk?

An IT service desk offers multiple functions (often including a help desk) and has a strategic and cross-organisational approach. It will look at the wider needs of the business and how the ICT infrastructure can be tailored to meet these. It focuses on slightly more than resolving day-to-day issues. 

So, whilst the service desk will often have a help desk element, its overall purpose is broader. Importantly, the service desk is designed to be proactive as opposed to purely reactive.

An effective service desk should be fully-integrated with other IT service management (ITSM) processes and will be able to track compliance with Service Level Agreements (SLAs). It acts as a central contact for all business processes, and provides self-service capabilities for incident/service requests, often using an integrated service catalogue. It should also be able to integrate and communicate with any configuration management database. 

So what’s the best option for you?

If your business is relatively small and needs primarily tactical day-to-day support rather than anything more strategic, then opting for a provider who can offer IT help desk support may be the most appropriate option for you. Providers can be highly flexible in-terms of contracts and pricing and are, by definition, experts in their field.

If, however, you require a rather more strategic and comprehensive approach to IT strategy and infrastructure, it may be best served by opting for a provider who offers a complete IT service desk (almost certainly with a helpdesk within it) so that you can leverage the best technological solutions available to streamline processes and optimise efficiency. 

Here at Reflective IT, we can provide a comprehensive, reliable, and flexible IT support solution for your business. You can outsource whichever elements you want – even the entire function! We offer Desktop and Server Support, 24hour monitoring, and a friendly and efficient helpdesk to deal with everyday issues quickly and effectively, together with options for proactive strategic management.

If this is just what your business needs, why not contact us today? You can email us at [email protected] or call 0207 317 4535. We’d be delighted to hear from you and happy to discuss how we can help.

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