I keep a pad of frequently called numbers near my office phone- there is a number next to a label called “Helpless desk”.
In theory, this is how our helpdesk works.
- I go to a web site and fill submit a problem request form.
- It gets routed electronically to someone who addresses the issue.
- The helpdesk ticket is closed, I am notified by email, and merrily continue to perform my job.
In practice this is actually what happened this week. I got an email from a white hat hacker who informed me that a particular perl script we use on our site has a vulnerability, and that an update would take care of it. I got the update, but sadly found out that the script was in a directory that our IT department had installed it, and the directory permissions were set that prevented me from making any modifications. Permission issues seem to always happen. So here is what happened..
- Rolling across the room to a PC, I start over. I never understand why I have to provide a room number and browser version when I am reporting a web site issue, but I must comply with required fields. So now they know I use IE 4.x (not). The problem description text area input field is about the size of two matchbook covers, and backspacing does not work.
- Since this is a security issue, I made sure to cc: the guy in charge of that area. Maybe it will light a fire.
- I get an email notification that states my ticket has been created.
- Four days pass and I almost forget about it. What can be the problem? Changing permissions on a unix server is a task that should take someone, oh, about 140 seconds at the most, and most of that is directory navigation.
- So this is what I learned about our helpdesk. The form establishes an electronic paper trail, but to get it done, you have to track down the right people and harass, beg, bribe, whine. I start by calling and leaving un-returned messages, sending emails, and eventually bothering the poor director of the helpdesk who gets just as frustrated with the various technical departments.
- That failing, I start walking the halls in the IT area, and prowl until I can find the right person. The challenge in this game is that they change either titles or names every few months.
- With some luck, in a week or two, maybe more, I get an email letting me know the ticket is closed. Sometimes tat even means the issue was fixed.
And that is how help happens. Oh, if I were only root on the server, I would not only not bothering them, I’d not be griping here.
The post "IT Helpdesks: Theory And Practice" was originally cracked open and scrambled from a rotten egg at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2005/02/it-helpdesks/) on February 4, 2005.