service desk or help desk

What is the difference between Service Desk and Help Desk?

In my first posting on this topic, (The Difference Between Help Desk and Service Desk (part 1)), we examined what a Service Desk is. In this post, we’ll review the Help Desk and how it is different than Service Desk.

What is a help desk

A Help Desk Solution is intended to provide information and support related to products and services sold to customers and end-users. Help Desk is widely used in corporations and non-profits to manage volumes of requests. Use of a Help Desk improves customer service.

The terms help desk and service desk are used interchangeably, however; there are significant differences. Where Service Desk fully subscribes to the ITIL® model, Help Desk only supports a fraction of it. You can think of Help Desk as being the first generation of Service Desk. Service Desk grew out of the advancing sophistication, maturity and requirements of IT organizations.

Help Desk / Service Desk Comparison

When you evaluate the list of ITIL® Service Desk requirements, you’ll find that the Help Desk represents a small segment of the functionality. However, the Help Desk is pervasive in a Service Desk environment and is central to most of the activity in IT.

Help Desk Systems:

Service Desk Systems, including the above.

  • Configuration management
  • Change management
  • Release management
  • Service-level management
  • Availability management
  • Capacity management
  • Financial management
  • IT service continuity management
  • Security management

Now that we can see that Help Desk is just a part of Service Desk we’ll segregate them further by talking about Help Desk Systems versus Service Desk Systems.

What are the benefits of a Help Desk System?

  1. Simplicity:
    The most obvious are that it addresses the requirements of your internal and external customers. Dedicated to incident and problem management the Help Desk System is simpler to manage and, has less to do with IT strategy achievement.
  2. Less overhead and costs:
    A Help Desk System requires less overhead to maintain. Once the software and database are installed and configured, there’s nothing to do except manage inbound tickets, group them into problems and report on a routine basis.

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What are the pitfalls of help desk?

  1. Expecting Service Desk when you’re shopping for Help Desk:
    When buying a Help Desk System, be mindful that while the cost is often lower, it will not meet the requirements of a Service Desk System per ITIL®.
  2. Buying Help Desk when you should be buying Service Desk:
    What does your organization need, what are you willing to pay for, how much work are you willing to do and will your culture support a Service Desk? If not, then perhaps a Help Desk is better suited for you.

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