How to Cope When Your IT Service Desk is Overwhelmed

InvGate May 21, 2020
- 4 min read

IT service desks everywhere are under pressure. The COVID-19 crisis has changed the way we work and how businesses are able to operate around the world. Employees might be ill, and others are self-isolating and having to work in completely different ways. Many IT service desks will be dealing with staff shortages, an influx of remote working tickets and equipment requests, and the potential negative effect on morale that these might bring. To help you, this blog looks at seven tips to help turn things around when your IT service desk is overwhelmed. Especially in a time of crisis. 

Tip #1: Take a deep breath or two 

It’s easy to panic when your IT service desk queue is overwhelming, but panicking isn’t going to help you, the rest of your team, or your customers. Before you do anything else, please take a deep breath – or a few – so that you can really understand the task in front of you. 

Tip #2: Do a sense check of your queue(s) 

Look at the types of tickets in your queue and search for key themes AT A VERY HIGH LEVEL. Sorry for shouting, but now isn’t the time to carry out a detailed trend analysis. Instead, look for key themes. For example, lots of equipment requests or connectivity issues such that you can start grouping things together. Also, check for duplicate tickets to avoid rework further down the line. 

Tip #3: Do an IT service desk version of “Avengers, assemble” 

If ever there was a time to work as one team, this is it. As well as your service desk and IT support teams, cast your net wider. Reach out to anyone that has IT in their title or is positioned under IT in the organization chart. Even if their role isn’t technical, project coordinators, service delivery leads, and relationship managers could still unlock accounts and reset passwords to help bring the queue back under control.  

Also, check-in with your user community. If you have business colleagues who are going to be furloughed could you get them seconded into the IT department temporarily? You could ask them to complete tasks such as reviewing distribution lists, checking the folder structure in their areas, or archiving outdated processes and procedures.  

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Tip #4: Set and manage expectations as well as you can 

I think it’s safe to say that this is nowhere near business as usual. So set business expectations accordingly. Check-in with key business stakeholders to confirm what’s absolutely critical and what can be dealt with at a later date.  

Also, sanity check the scope of what can be supported in light of the current limitations and, if your IT service desk is really struggling, let people know early so that you can plan out contingencies together rather than simply waiting for the service level agreement (SLA) to breach. 

Tip #5: Keep moving forward 

Once you have your team assembled and a handle on the key pain points, make a start on the queue. If you’re looking for an effective starting point, look for those who are completely unable to work. Triage those who are worst affected so that you can help them be productive again. Next, focus on those with connectivity issues and so on. Just keep moving forward, one ticket at a time. 

Tip #6: Manage your time well 

Review your IT service desk’s shift patterns to ensure that they still meet the needs of the business and adjust them if necessary. Now that everyone’s working from home you may need more people online first thing in the morning. If you’re a global operation, then consider a follow the sun model. Position your team’s availability such that they can quickly respond when they’re most needed. 

Tip #7: Keep everyone motivated in these difficult times 

Look after your people. Make sure that your team members are taking their breaks and aren’t doing too many hours. The temptation may be to up overtime, but it’ll lead to burn out if people don’t get enough rest. Check-in with your team regularly and keep morale up by planning fun things to keep everyone's spirits up – we’ve seen trivia nights and virtual happy hours work well during isolation. 

So, that’s our list of top tips for what to do when your IT service desk is overwhelmed in difficult times such as the COVID-19 crisis. What would you add to this? Please let us know in the comments.  

For more information on how we’re responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, please see here how we’re offering our service desk solutions free of charge to anyone who needs them.


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