A help desk isn’t just for IT

Published by Matt Setchell on

For the last 16 or so years when I have worked in Edu-IT I have always used a helpdesk, of various qualities – but always used one. Since running my own team over the last 10 years, it has been the center of our workflow. Constantly tweaked and improved to meet our ever changing needs. Everything flows through it.

A few years ago we made the switch to FreshDesks – after extensive research around the right system for our needs, and it has served us well over the last 4 years or so, handling thousands of tickets a month, hundreds a day.

However, one question I see get asked a lot online is how to organise yourself, and that’s from wider teams than IT. And the truth is a help desk platform is not just for IT, and in Education, the emerging central teams of MATs and sub-teams are ideal for organising their workflow using a help desk solution.

Do you struggle with shared mailboxes? having to switch to different accounts, drag out conversations from multiple messages? Do you get lost between colleagues? How do you prioritise your workload? All of these are solved by effectively using a help desk.

I have set up site and facilities teams before on the helpdesk, and that is a fairly easy move from IT tickets, all are jobs and requests to a larger team

So, I have recently set up a help desk for Central HR at our MAC. The team of 4 were seeing an increase in requests and questions, from getting jobs advertised, to answering pay or standard HR queries. I showed them how we managed the workload with IT, and it was clear the system to keep on top of and track multiple requests was very similar to IT

Interestingly, a lot of the questions or advice required was the same. How do I do X what is the policy on Y?

The single HR inbox, wasn’t working for the team, and so I worked with them to set up FreshDesks for them, and the feedback has been fantastic.

Task-driven interface and organising

Every task that is required to be done, is logged. Whether that is by an email to hr@, a call to the team or a self logged job, or even sending out an email to a colleague. This creates a task thread (a ticket) that is assigned to a specific school and a colleague. We use automation to do this based on factors, such as email address.

What the HR team then get is a screen of tasks that they can filter/focus on, with all the information for that task in one place. They also get the ability to collaborate more effectively, leaving internal notes to help each other or themselves.

Understanding the need

Additionally, metrics become available: what’s the most common topic requiring support? What are the team doing more of? What is their capacity? What should they prioritise? How do they know what is a priority? Through no extra work – we can now begin to see how we can lighten and automate the workload.


Self help means allowing users to get the answer themselves. This fits in with our work anywhere, any device, any time mantra – and answering the most common questions in help articles via the knowledgebase on the helpdesk achieves this. Additionally, an internal knowledge base is possible for the HR team so they standardise policies and answers, and to help further – a central store for all HR policies makes these more useful to end users.

The end-user

So lots of benefits for the HR team, how about the end user? Well first off, they can still just email HR@ – no extra work required there. But then, they can login to the helpdesk and see current and past questions, so they don’t need to ask again


Everything is logged, and so everything is auditable, there is a full paper trail which is essential to HR.

Can this work elsewhere?

Yes, absolutely. I can see this working effectively over central teams – one desk can provide support for all kinds of work and teams when built correctly, creating a central place for operational management

However, for individuals and many SBMs and their smaller teams, it could help you manage, automate, account and deliver in your role more effectively – and as FreshDesk is free for 1 user, I would really consider giving it a go as a way to manage and understand your workflow.

If you need any advice, drop me a tweet, I am @msetchell

Categories: Blog