Help Desk Process - A Simple SharePoint Solution for Emailed Support Requests

The Situation

At one point during my career, I was the only SharePoint support person for more than 5,000 employees and contractors, about 90 locations, and more than 300 SharePoint sites. What compounded the difficulty of this situation was the fact that I also had to serve as developer, trainer, project manager for individual SharePoint solutions, governance compliance auditor, and e-Discovery contact.

I was receiving an average of five support requests a day (it would have been many more if I could have spent more time educating managers about the efficiencies of SharePoint and increasing SharePoint usage). I was allowing the emails to build up in my inbox and was assisting customers in the order emails were received, unless other request emails were more urgent. I felt like a hamster in a wheel with no escape route; work was not fun at that time!

The Task

My manager wanted me to begin using the company support desk software in which requesters had to 1) surf to the company help desk portal page, 2) find the correct link to the ticket system, 3) fill out a confusing web form, and 4) hope the ticket didn’t fall into a black hole.

I would have had to take the time to learn a completely new software and then – since email would continue to be the first contact people would have with me – ask every requester to additionally submit a new help desk ticket via the non-intuitive company support system.

Being a process person, I looked for another solution with fewer steps and complexity. My self-imposed task, given that my manager expected me to begin documenting and managing email requests in such a way that we could justify additional SharePoint support personnel, was to find a solution that made the process more orderly and transparent without increasing my already overwhelming workload.

NOTE: I already had “New Site” and “Consultation” request lists and forms built into the SharePoint Support site for efficiency, but most employees chose to circumvent that system (or didn’t know about it) because I was widely known as “The SharePoint Guy”. Contacting me by email was a quicker and easier way to get assistance.

The Action

I built a document library in the SharePoint Support site and added a status column so that it could serve as an active task list. I also made the document library able to receive emails at the address [email protected].

Next, I built a “Quick Step” in Outlook so that when I processed request emails, I clicked the Quick Step button and Outlook would send auto-replies to the requesters. Those auto-replies let them know that I had received their requests and that they had been entered into the Support Ticket System. The replies also informed them that I would address requests in the order they were received and that they should call me directly if the requests were emergencies.

That same one-click Quick Step in Outlook then forwarded the requesters’ emails to the document library, where they awaited my action and management.

The Results
Leadership made the decision to hire additional support personnel because my workload became more apparent to them due to the newly-documented workload.

My personal inbox clutter dropped radically because requests no longer languished there awaiting action.

My total effort to log each request as expected by my manager while also notifying the customers of pending action? One click.

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