Help desks left out of Y2K loop
April 16, 1999
by Stacy Collett
(IDG) -- The road map to year 2000 compliance seems easy enough to follow: Find the problems, fix the problems, test the system, cope with glitches and recover. But most companies fail to include their help desk operations in planning for those "cope and recover" stages, according to market research firm Gartner Group Inc.
"Help desk people are responsible for implementation and maintenance. The piece that's been missing is the handoff from those that develop the changes to those who have to implement the change in a production environment," said Bill Keyworth, a Gartner analyst.
Keyworth said communication among departments and consolidation of help desk resources and information will bring help desk operations in sync with year 2000 projects.
Poor communication slowed help desk operations at Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich. The networking, client/server, database and application groups each would bring the company's system down at different times without warning for year 2000 repairs, Keyworth said. When users called to report problems, help desk staffers had to say they didn't know the cause. A new plan requires at least two weeks' notice to system users, via the Web, before anyone shuts down the system.
"It lessens the number of unexpected outages to the 40,000 clients we have around the world and keeps them from calling unnecessarily," said Brett Grandjean, service desk program manager at Dow Chemical.
Companies should also consolidate year 2000-related information into one help desk, Keyworth said. For example, if a company is making changes to a lot of desktop configurations, information on each upgrade should be logged in to one database.
DHL Worldwide Express Inc. in Redwood Shores, Calif., recently tested and upgraded 5,500 help desk systems that run its online shipping business.
"To a certain degree we already had some information [gathered], but we've consolidated the rest of [the] appropriate information because of Y2K," said Mike Comstock, DHL's vice president for electronic commerce and planning. The centralized information will allow DHL to quickly track and fix glitches on its equipment.
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