Help Desk Software has ushered in an era where companies have a chance to be more efficient and effective with their customer support systems. It is exactly as its name implies: software that acts as a virtual help desk.
Technically, a Help Desk, in the context of Information Technology (IT), is a department inside an organization that is responsible for answering the technical questions of its users. Most major companies have set up help desk software to respond to questions from their customers.
The company’s response to their clients’ concerns is usually transferred using email, telephone, website, or online chat. This is done through a “ticketing” system – customers submit a ticket, whether it’s a simple inquiry or an actual satisfaction report, and the software ”decides” where the ticket should be submitted to. Then, the appropriate team members try to solve the problem, and eventually respond to the ticket with their recommended solutions.
Additionally, there are internal Help Desks aimed at offering the same form of help, but only for the employees within the organization.
Furthermore, a helpdesk ticketing system has the ability to assist customers with technical problems, such as installing and using computer systems, troubleshooting network connections, installing entertainment systems and resetting passwords.
For example, Help Desks at financial institutions may assist customers with online banking and trading, while those at cable companies may troubleshoot audio and video problems. A small business usually has a single centralized help desk, while a large company may have several interconnected.
Then again, if you own a company or a business enterprise, why would you bother to implement a Help Desk solution? Why not just hire additional employees for tech-support or set up a deal with a call center agency?
There are many different reasons, making help desk software’s far and above the best solution for scaling your customer support.
The main advantage of help desk software – and its primary goal as a part of a customer support system – is to improve customer satisfaction. Companies provide products or services to customers, by either offering the lowest price or the best product or service. However, when the competition between companies comes to a point of near deadlock, customers begin to seek other invaluable features or bonuses to aid them in their decision of what service or product to choose. Customer support is definitely an invaluable feature that customers pay attention to; and if your company’s customer support service is good, customers will surely favor your company over others.
Furthermore, customers know exactly where to go for information because the contact information is clearly visible on product brochures and company websites. Some companies outsource their help desk services to offshore companies. However, studies suggest that this strategy may not work if customers begin to experience poor service, such as long wait times and poorly trained staff. Since Help Desk solutions are generally automated and process customer questions much faster, they have the upper hand.
Help desk software is always flexible. Different types of companies have their own needs, and different types of customers always have their own unique requirements. A customer for a telecommunication company may prefer a fully-digitized customer support area while a customer for a food box delivery subscription might just want to be talking to a human at some point. When it comes to ensuring both customer satisfaction and a company’s ease of use, help desk software can easily adjust.
Help Desk Software is also extremely customizable on the micro-level. For example, ticketing systems can be modified in such a manner that it requires a lot of details. A company can choose to have its help desk software include custom fields such as department, building location, floor number, and customer preference – virtually anything is possible! This creates more ways to serve customers or easier ways for employees to narrow down ticket solutions.
Help desks can contribute to the improvement of the quality of a company’s products or services. When customers call a help desk, specialists typically fill out problem reports describing the call. Companies can use software to tabulate and track these reports from initiation to resolution. Since these reports can be tracked and recorded, the information you can get from trends and data can obviously help immensely in your company’s quality improvement procedures.
Developers and project managers can review these problem reports and begin to implement improvements to their product or service. If several customers call with the same problem, the help desk might alert quality control and possibly senior management so that the company can fix the problem quickly.
A help desk is typically a one-stop-shop for the whole of a company’s customer support system. Most help desk systems include a holistic platform that provides a single place for users – be it the customer or the tech professional – to create tickets, view the status of open issues, and close out tickets once they’re resolved. A portal can also be used to relay important information to users, such as announcements or press releases. All this can aid a lot in making processes much faster and more productive.
A central help desk department also means customer support calls or tickets come to the same people. This enables staff members to build on their skills and become experts in several technical areas, which in turn leads to faster problem resolution in the future.
Since Help Desks are often part of corporate information technology departments, they have a direct effect on the enhancement of process efficiency. For example, if a customer needs help using a particular software function, the help desk specialist could ask his software designer colleague for clarification. As a result, the customer’s concerns are addressed promptly, the specialist adds to his knowledge base and the software designer finds out how customers are using their product. Help desk employees can share technical information, which enables them to learn from one another and resolve problems faster.
Customers have different preferences as it relates to how they interact with customer support representatives – some customers would prefer email while younger generations may be more inclined to use social media.
Using a help desk software solution that can accommodate these preferences demonstrates to your customers that you truly care about them and want to make the support process as easy and painless as possible. This helps foster good customer relationships, which in turn can boost company growth.
Satisfactory response from consumers can lead to better customer interaction, which ultimately leads to the increased satisfaction of customers. Customers tend to invest more in organization that values customer satisfaction. In turn, this can greatly and dramatically improve the rate of income for your business.
Help desk software which has a simplified and quick implementation equates to your IT team spending less time and effort in making the tool work or answering a complaint. IT professionals, in turn, waste less time on unnecessary manual processes, freeing up valuable time for more important work.
Your help desk acts as your primary tool for customer requests. Keeping this system up and running and ready to respond rapidly to customer issues is critical to establish confidence in your IT department’s capabilities. As such, maximizing the contribution of the IT department can help make a successful business.
One final note: downtime or bugs within the customer support system can also hurt productivity rates and ultimately reduce system effectiveness. Thus, it is vital to ensure you use only a high-quality help desk solution since they have reduced downtime, a huge factor in quality management when client-related engagements are on the line.
Man has advanced with its technology far enough to a point where it has reinvented himself beyond what was thought as impossible.
The 21st century is a witness to how people live and breathe in a world that is practically run by automated, efficiently multitasking and highly adaptable machines. These computing machines, more aptly termed computers, have evolved together with mankind as to how it “thinks and acts” in solving man’s problems.
As such, computer programmers and engineers need to create the most versatile and most reliable software to match the growing requirements of the society. This gives rise to the question – how does software make a computer the staple machine in every home, school, and office?
In simple terms, software refers to a computer program or set of data that are stored electronically and is used to perform virtually any task on a computer machine. Its applications range from the development of popular mobile games and basic office encoding purposes, to highly sophisticated cloud security protocol and launching of exploration teams into space.
With the unlimited potential of become anything a programmer chooses it to accomplish, software development has become one of the fastest growing and the biggest industries of the last few decades.
According to Forrester, a technology and market research company, in 2014, as the economy improved, the software industry grew at a rate of 7.1%. This was the fastest growth rate in the world of information technology for that year. This is due to the fact that business models around the world have adapted to fit Information and Communication Technology (ICT) practices in its framework.
Evidently, the core of this profession is software development precisely because computers are simply scrap metal and wires without programs running these parts. As such, the concept of software development might seem too daunting for an average person. However, proper knowledge and understanding of the science can bring a different light to anyone who ventures into this vast world of the computer age.
A variety of approaches have been defined and designed based on the different phases of software development considered. Specific life cycles, better known as “Software Development Process Models”, are closely followed in order to ensure that the software development process can yield a success on the project’s objective.
These software life cycle models define the software development phases to be considered, and the order in which the phases should be carried out. There are six phases in every software development life cycle model:
1) Identification of Requirements/Analysis: The main focus of this phase is to gather requirements such as who will use the system and how will it be used. It should answer what data need to be inputted in the system and what corresponding output should the system provide. These requirements are then analyzed for their validity and viability in the overall deliverables of the project. All these are compiled into a Requirement Specification document to guide the succeeding phases of the models.
2) Design/Specification: The system and software design is then prepared based on the requirements. System design indicates the hardware and system requirements, as well as the outline for the overall system framework. This is also the phase where the engineers and developers create a test strategy including what to test conduct, and how the test should be conducted.
3) Programming/Coding: Upon validation, system design documents are divided into modules or unit. After the validation, the actual coding is then implemented. This is the most crucial part for the developer, and it happens to be the lengthiest stage of the software development life cycle.
4) Testing: After the code has been developed, the software is subjected to testing to see if the product can actually address the needs identified during the first phase. All forms of functional testing such as unit testing, integration testing, system testing and acceptance testing are done, as well as other non-functional types of testing.
5) Deployment: Once testing has been successful, the product is sent to the customer for trial use and beta testing. If there are any identified bugs or other necessary changes, the engineering team can apply relevant modifications, and then release the final version software for client use.
6) Maintenance: Actual problems with the software may surface once it is already being used by the customer. Providing customer support and product service is the last phase.
Whichever model is chosen for a specific project, the main objective is still to resolve the initial concern of a client. Specific models yield specific results. Some of the more common models are: Waterfall model, Joint application development (JAD), Rapid application development (RAD) model, synchronize-and-stabilize, Spiral model and Prototyping model.
This complex industry has been on a constant evolution towards redefining and improving its processes. Thanks to its functionality growth and expansion, software applications has expanded to operating systems, software applications, network management tools, and customized enterprise software systems.
While commercial software is created in response to a demand in the market, enterprise software is a solution to a company’s internal hurdle or as a means of accelerating and improving efficiency of current business processes.
Similarly, as software development evolves to cater more intricate and complex calculations, upgrades to the hardware are also deemed necessary. For instance, just a few years back, messaging has seemed to reach its pinnacle; landline telephones and fax machines are the greatest tool any office could get.
Nowadays, internet has broken the communication barrier with its powerful connectivity. Chat service (FB messaging, Viber and Slack, to name a few) and online fax service (Find out more here: http://www.gmailfaxhelp.com/tutorials/google-fax-number/) have raised the level of connectivity to a higher level. Thus, an office computer and a printer (which is already common set-up in the first place) are more than enough to get the job done.
In this light, the development of more advanced hardware is inevitable. Hardware that are more capable in processing more complex information is bound to evolve with the growing human needs.
To the casually curious or the intensely interested, James Burt is an experienced software developer of 16 years without any formal qualifications. In an article by The Guardian, he highlights valuable tips on how to become a professional software developer despite not having the degree.
He says a positive attitude will get you far in your career. He then emphasizes the importance of showing enthusiasm in programming. “You need to enjoy programming to do it well.” When an aspiring developer is happy what he or she is doing, taking actions on how to improve the craft naturally follows.
Fortunately, self-studying is easier than ever since the internet is abundant with free online tutorials and countless educational YouTube videos on current relevant practices. There are also plenty of free-to-download e-books on programming languages from the very basic to the advanced.
Technological universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have online courses for fee that can be taken by anyone at any convenient time. Burt highly encourages participation in virtual communities where one can be exposed to professionals in the field. Having peers in the industry both online and offline is a huge boost not only in acquiring up-to-date knowledge but also gaining significant experience.
In addition, joining open source projects is an excellent example of increased self-learning and meeting a diverse group of professionals in one project. It is important to always look for opportunities where one can enhance and further hone his or her IT skills. Burt emphasized that aspirants should consider doing freelance work. This is a great way to get traction in the industry. There are many organizations online such as Freelance Adviser, Guerrilla Freelancing and Freelancers Union, who offer invaluable resources in freelancing in general and there are online communities where you can venture into as a beginner.
Whether software development sparks interest as a degree, profession, hobby, or investment, this industry is definitely worth looking into. It is a challenging and worthwhile discipline that also happens to be lucrative. It is an exciting time for programmers since a lot of other industries from all around the globe are constantly searching for talented people, and it is not showing signs of stopping anytime soon.
In fact, the need only increases as the technology becomes more advanced (which is always the plan).
In a society where everything seems to have already been invented, software development shatters that mindset and paves way to the creation of things no one even knew could be possible.
Communication has immensely changed in the past few years. From using craggy, ringing telephone lines to multitasking through the latest smart phones, mankind has witnessed how connecting with people has evolved to whole new level. Thanks to technological geniuses like Steve Jobs, the market of using communication devices (like his brainchild – the iPhone) is projected to grow in astounding numbers.
Behind these marvelous devices come even more spectacular applications which make these communication advancements progressively powerful.
Through computer technology and software incorporation, communication tools have become integral elements in every industry in every corner of the planet. The use of software in being connected with other people has become a huge support in bringing efficiency and comfort to what previously was a hard and complicated task. With the continuously increasing demand for unending connectivity (through social media), mobile application downloads are similarly on the rise.
Basic communication tools (like telephones and fax machines) have evolved so much that its technology has become a cultural aspect of today’s generation. Before, a telephone system with caller ID was an exciting advancement. Now, fax machines are given a more reinforcing makeover with its integration with software development. Fax messaging has gone far beyond than what it was expected to be as it now enters the internet. Gmail has come up with a way to provide a more efficient and less expensive way of sending fax messages. Check out Gmail Fax Help (http://www.gmailfaxhelp.com/tutorials/google-fax-number/) for more information.
Technological evolution has definitely shown how much more mankind can make lives much easier and convenient. Since the advantages of software engineering and design have been much more evident nowadays, it is only apt that one should take a look at what applications and technologies sparked the masterful evolution of communication.
Since its establishment in August 2003, Skype Technologies has been making tidal waves in the video chatting and voice call services across the globe. The company leads world-wide communication by fronting video calls in an excellently integrated application which can be used to view the person on the other side.
This idea has held a huge potential back when the internet was still starting to snowball. The concept of the application is to make long-distance communication with another person more personal using video. As everyone knows by now, a webcam is needed from both parties in order for the system to work. With a press of a button (or dialing of numbers) in the application, the unique experience of video conversation can begin.
From this simple idea, world communication has improved by leaps and bounds.
Skype has been a major player in the video communications market and is continuing their operations up to this day. More people are still using Skype, from conducting online interviews to simply chatting with friends from the farthest regions of the planet. Even with big competitors like Facebook Video Call and Facetime, Skype is still a thriving application that needs much appreciation for their innovative ways.
The earlier method of communication started from writing letters and mailing them to local places and even across the globe. Obviously, the process took a very long time to complete because of the travel time for each trip of the mailer.
Fast forward a couple of years (or decades, even), snail mail improved when local post offices took a step forwards and started to send letters with a faster, more systematic approach on the delivery. The travel time of each letter became a bit more efficient, but it is still considerably slow.
Today, sending messages has not only become paper-less, it also has become an instant message.
Leading company Yahoo! has provided services that allow each user to communicate through online chatting. Who could ever forget the notorious smile of the Yahoo Messenger application when it is signed in? Yahoo messenger has become an instant brand for quick and exciting messaging that everyone in the world would know. It is at the forefront of what is called Instant Messaging or IM in the dial up internet era.
What Yahoo! Messenger (or YM) did is to revolutionize the way chatting works. Since most people would rather look at a certain application than checking their emails from time to time, the company made extreme efforts in providing a service that’s free and easy to use. One would only need to have a Yahoo! Account to build his YM and his messenger’s list. The application also boasted of using emoticons, now more popularly known as Emojis. These emoticons have established them as a brand that promotes communication in a fun and easy manner.
Social networking sites are not necessarily new in the business. Truly, it is more apparent now than ever with the recent advances of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Nonetheless, social networking actually began way back, when MySpace.com dominated the internet.
Myspace is a social media site which incorporates internet sharing, commenting and posting in a more old-fashioned way. Photos and videos can be linked in one’s profile to the other to show off what he or she has been up to lately. This has been a brilliant way for people to share their lives and build up an online personality.
Though not in the levels of Facebook today, MySpace was once the perennial favorite. It did so by tempting the key young adult demographic with music, videos, and a funky, feature-filled environment. It looked and felt more hip and trendy than major competitor Friendster right from the start. True enough, it conducted a campaign in the early days to show alienated Friendster users just what they were missing.
The company behind Myspace recognized the innovative approach they needed to do and mapped social media as a true stamp in the internet. Though it was not necessarily an application, it was a platform in which SNS sites made their foundation.
As such, Myspace.com is considered as one of the most successful technologies ever produced, linking communication and technology in an engaging and interactive set-up during its time.
People now reside in a world where connecting with each other is as easy as 1, 2 and 3. Communication has grown so much over the years, almost at an instant, that every company is swinging left and right to provide that one right recipe to be something new and something that stands out. This attitude can be traced back by looking at the things that previous software designers and software engineers did in the past. Modern communication machinery is founded on the efforts of enthusiasts that established the beneficial link of communication and technology.
Applications and technologies in the past paved the way for an extreme communications evolution.
Simply put, there are many technologies that set as a foundation for the current technologies people has right now. Thanks to them, peoples around the world can link together harmoniously, knowing that everything, especially communication, can be made fast and easy.
Traditionally, programmers are taught that software programs have a phase-based approach to development which is simply feature development, alpha, beta, and golden master (GM). This has been the staple for a very long time now.
The thing is, software nowadays is sold to users against their competitors because of their features. For example, you would choose an organizer software that has a bonus feature of having bookmark widgets than those that only have calendars. Features are now the selling point of most software and have introduced many challenges to be addressed by programmers.
Feature development includes the phase where the new features are built, and (ideally) residual issues from the most recent release are addressed when possible. The development cycle reaches “alpha” when each feature is implemented and ready for testing. Consequently, “beta” hits when enough bugs have been fixed to enable customer feedback.
In unfortunate cases, when programmers or a team of programmers are busy trying to fix enough bugs to reach beta, new bugs appear. This is one of the most common, and most annoying phenomena in programming, especially when the designs are revolutionary and complex.
It’s a classic case of whack-a-mole: fix one bug, and two more pop up. Frustrating for most, but this is where the bottleneck of programming productivity comes.
Finally, after a long game of whack-a-mole with the bugs, the program release phase reaches the golden master milestone when there are zero open bugs. Then again, this is usually achieved by programmers by fixing just the issues that could deter the program from leaving the beta phase. Simply put, programmers only remove the bugs that are outright apparent, and leave the unnoticeable bugs for the next releases when users have reported them.
Constantly procrastinating on bugs that need to be fixed is a dangerous way to make software. As the bug count grows, tackling it becomes increasingly daunting–resulting in a vicious death-spiral of technical debt.
Technical debt is a concept in programming that reflects the extra development work that arises when code that is easy to implement in the short run is used instead of applying the best overall solution. Technical debt is usually associated with ultra-complex programming, especially in the context of refactoring.
To make matters worse, schedules get derailed because coding around the bugs slows down development. Meanwhile, customers are experiencing death by a thousand cuts caused by unfixed defects. As such, many experts in programming has begun addressing the growing problems on technical debt, and introduced Agile Software Development.
In software application development, Agile Software Development (ASD) is technically defined as “a methodology for the creative process that anticipates the need for flexibility and applies a level of pragmatism into the delivery of the finished product.”
Agile software development focuses on keeping code simple, testing often, and delivering functional bits of the application as soon as they’re ready. The goal of ASD is to build upon small client-approved parts as the project progresses, as opposed to delivering one large application at the end of the project.
Agile puts the “quality factor” into the iterative development approach in order for the programming team to maintain a consistent level of quality release every time. If a feature is half-baked, it is essentially thrown into the trash bin. Good programmers now have a simple trick: defining or redefining the definition of “done.”
For traditional teams, “done” means “good enough” for Quality Assurance (QA) to begin with. The problem with this definition is that only the obvious bugs are apparent in early in the release cycle. As a result, by the time QA gets their hands on it, the product is saddled with layers upon layers of defects that weren’t easily noticed.
Agile teams, however, define “done” as ready to release; this does not only mean that it could be tendered to the users. It also means developers don’t move on to the next story or feature until their current item is practically in the customer’s’ hands. To speed things along, they use techniques like feature branching workflows, automated testing, and continuous integration throughout the development cycle.
Agile development is not a methodology in itself. It is the collective term that describes several agile methodologies. It is basically a by-product of a collaboration between many software developers that value the quality and sought a good way to help the up and coming surge of software programmers.
At the signing of Agile Manifesto in 2001, these methodologies include Scrum, XP, Crystal, FDD, and DSDM. Since then, lean practices have also emerged as a valuable agile methodology and so are included under the agile development umbrella. The Agile Manifesto includes:
Ultimately, Agile Software Development is an approach to programming that is lean in nature, like how manufacturers practice Lean Manufacturing: Reduce waste, include the clients every step of the way, and address problems as soon as possible.
Agile provides multiple opportunities for the stakeholder (the client or the target user) and to the team engagement before, during, and after each phase. The flexibility, versatility, and efficiency of ASD allows the stakeholders to be involved every step of the way.
It’s like getting a Gmail account – an all-around email service, fax messaging capability (http://www.gmailfaxhelp.com/tutorials/google-fax-number/) and access to practically all essential media communication tool in the web.
By involving the client in every step of the project, there is a high degree of collaboration between the client and project team, providing more opportunities for the team to truly understand the client’s vision. Rendering quality software frequently increases stakeholders’ trust in the team’s ability to deliver high-quality working software, and encourages them to be more deeply engaged in the project.
While the team needs to stay focused on delivering the agreed subset of the product’s features during each iteration, there is an opportunity to constantly refine and re-prioritize the overall product backlog. New or changed backlog items can be planned for the next iteration, providing the opportunity to introduce changes within a few weeks.
Also, an Agile approach provides a unique opportunity for clients to be involved throughout the project – from prioritizing of features and iterations planning, to review sessions and frequent software builds containing new features. However, this approach also requires clients to understand that they are seeing a work in progress in exchange for this added benefit of transparency.
By breaking down the project into manageable units, the project team can focus on high-quality development, testing, and collaboration. Also, by producing frequent builds and conducting testing and reviews in every iteration, quality is improved by finding and fixing defects quickly and identifying expectation mismatches early.
Anytime we want to build or create something, we simply have to imagine how it will look like. Of course, “function” is important as well, perhaps even more than “form” in some cases, but when it comes to software development and modern methods of coding – design is equally important and valuable. Some software developers even say that you should always design first and code later, but this old geek “joke” cannot be applied to all cases and there are many ways in which good software can be developed if you code first.
Software design focuses on both main elements of the code – algorithm and architecture, and this makes it so important. Since design affects the end user in a lot of ways, sometimes even more than the back-end part of the project, it is vital that all elements of a software solution are placed in the right position and that the final design suits the needs of the customers.
Designers have to be in constant communication with the rest of the team, simply because software development is not a “one man’s job” anymore. Several people, at least, are involved in this process, and large companies often deploy dozens of experts to work on a single piece of software. Therefore, communication is key, and being able to understand what the rest of the team needs is imperative for a good designer.
The process of design is basically about problem-solving and planning, but it can be divided into three main stages. In the first stage, you brainstorm ideas, creating concepts and making plans about the project and the ways in which your end-product should look like. Once you find a suitable idea, you move on to the second stage, which has one goal – to create a wire-frame of the main elements that make the architecture of the software. It is important to accommodate everything in a way that will be simple but functional, and we all know how simplicity is hard to achieve. After this step comes the third stage, which can be called the “actual design”, and this part of the process is concerned with the shapes, colors, textures and all similar features of those elements that are a part of the design. According to client’s wishes and preferences, the product receives its final form, and aesthetic purposes are important in this final stage as well. Designers who make everything look “nice” will have a lot of satisfied customers, and they will justify the importance of good design when it comes to the process of software development.