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Service on the Front Line: The IT Help Desk in Higher Education

Monday, December 3, 2007


This 2007 ECAR research study explores the information technology (IT) help desk as a complex enterprise operating within a dynamic environment that includes the goals and culture of the central IT organization, the resources and services of the help desk, service level agreements between help desks and their clients, practices for evaluating and improving help desk services, and the perceived success of the help desk organization. Findings are related to the principles and practices of IT service management literature. This study is based on a literature review to identify issues and establish the research questions, consultation with selected higher education chief information officers, a quantitative survey of IT administrators at 454 colleges and universities in the EDUCAUSE database, qualitative interviews with 36 executives at 24 institutions, and four case studies about help desk and service management practices at a total of five higher education institutions.

Table of Contents
Entire Study Service on the Front Line: The IT Help Desk in Higher Education
Chapter 1 Executive Summary
Chapter 2 Introduction
Chapter 3 Methodology and Respondent Demographics
Chapter 4 The Institution and Its Central IT Organization
Chapter 5 Methods of Implementing Help Desk Services
Chapter 6 Funding and Staffing the Central IT Help Desk
Chapter 7 Help Desk Tools
Chapter 8 Service Level Agreements
Chapter 9 Setting a Course: Goals for the Help Desk
Chapter 10 Evaluating the Help Desk
Chapter 11 Success of the Help Desk: Assessing Outcomes
Chapter 12 On the Horizon: The Future of the Help Desk
Appendix A Institutional Respondents to the Online Survey
Appendix B Interviewees in Qualitative Research
Appendix C Bibliography
Case Studies
Bowdoin College and Colgate University: Using the Help Desk Strategically to Revitalize an IT Organization
ITIL at New York University: A Framework for Excellence
University of Alberta: Using Online Help Desk Tools to Enhance Client Service and Department Operations
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Integrating IT Support Institution-Wide
Online Supporting Materials
Key Findings
Survey Instrument

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