Help Desk vs. Service Desk
What is the difference between the terms Help Desk and Service Desk?
Does it matter what the difference is? Aren’t they really just two different ways to say essentially the same thing?
These are questions that many people have when searching for and ultimately selecting a software suite to help or support their end-customers and or internal staff. Although some might think that Help Desk and Service Desk can be used interchangeably and that it is just semantics – there is a difference.
Depending on the software that you select, you might not get all of the features and capabilities that your business requires to be successful, so let’s try and figure out what they both mean.
Before we dive into the differences between a Help Desk and a Service Desk, let’s discuss two acronyms that are important to understand. The first one is ITSM, and the second is ITIL.
ITSM stands for Information Technology Service Management, and it refers to the total IT activities within an organization (policies, processes, and supporting procedures). These are tools that IT departments use to design, deploy, and manage the way IT is implemented across their organization.
In plain English, and as an example of what this could look like in a real-world scenario, think of the technology that you might use at your current place of work. Your computer, the antivirus software that is installed on your computer, the apps that you need to do your job, the polices installed to maintain security and compliance, and the requirements that you have to change your password every 14 days, are all examples of ITSM solutions provided by your organization’s IT department.
ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. ITIL acts as a framework that provides a set of processes and best practices that can be implemented by the IT department within an organization. This framework’s core focus is to help provide better services to users, meet goals for service capacity and availability, and ensure that the actions of the IT organization effectively support the business objectives of the organization.
In layman’s terms, ITSM could be thought of as the map that an IT department uses to map out and plan the direction that the organization wants to go with its IT strategy. ITSM is the actual following of and implementation of that strategy.
Service Desk vs. Help Desk
The ITIL defines a Service Desk as “the single point of contact between the service provider and the users. A typical Service Desk manages incidents and service requests, and also handles communication with the users.”
This definition doesn’t really differentiate the difference between the two, but it can be understood that a Service Desk is a communication center where customers or internal employees can receive or find help from IT service providers. This help might take the form of ticket resolution or service request fulfillment.
The ultimate goal of any Service Desk is to provide high-quality service to customers in a timely manner.
Additionally, Service Desk platforms often incorporate several IT Service Management activities into one platform and are generally far more robust that Help Desk solutions. For example, most Help Desk software solutions provide ticketing, knowledge base, and communication solutions so that customer support teams can support, assist, and communicate with the organization’s end-customers. On the other hand, Service Desk solutions typically include those example Help Desk solutions, but also provide additional services that are far more robust and capable than that of Help Desk services. Service Desk solutions include tools like asset management, project management, incident management, problem management, change management, and much more.
To summarize, Service Desk solutions are Help Desk solutions on steroids, and Service Desks typically provide far more capabilities and features than their Help Desk counterparts.