Certification for service desk (Troubleshooting methodology)

SweenMachineSweenMachine Posts: 288Member ■■■□□□□□□□
Hey all!

Interested to get some opinions on this. As mentioned previously, I run a service desk (approx. 18 employees) for a managed service partner. Our primary vertical is healthcare, with approx. 80 percent of our clients in this vertical. The other 20 percent is made up of commercial and education.

My initial certification that I required my staff to get within 90 days of employment WAS the CompTIA HealthcareIT, given our vertical. It was great from a regulatory perspective, but obviously light on tech. That certification has since been retired.

I am looking for alternatives to the A+ as that 'baseline' certification. I was wondering what you all would think a 'slightly-above' entry level certification would be for this kind of situation? From a help desk standpoint, I personally learned a lot from the 70-685 years back, but I don't know if that has an analog these days.

Couple points:
  • Microsoft gold partner, so we deal with a lot of Microsoft shops.
  • 24x7 shop but we have a NOC/Networking/Systems team as well, Service Desk is level one end user.
  • About 40 percent of clients(and rising) are on O365
  • NO deskside support from my organization, all phone.
Assuming that these certifications for my staff are NOT required for our partnership, I am looking for ROI more from a service delivery standpoint and troubleshooting at the level one. I would love for my employees to continue their education on their field of choice, which is also part of the puzzle, but let's assume INDIVIDUAL ROI (from a career standpoint) isn't the first priority.

Any ideas? My first thought looking at curriculum was the *NEW* 98-349 for Microsoft. I know it is an MTA but it focuses on Win 10 now v Win 7.

Any left field suggestions?

-scott

Comments

  • UncleBUncleB Posts: 417Member
    My initial certification that I required my staff to get within 90 days of employment ...

    Can you clarify if you send them on training or expect them to do this off their own time? That will influence the training options.
    I am looking for ROI more from a service delivery standpoint and troubleshooting at the level one. I would love for my employees to continue their education on their field of choice, which is also part of the puzzle, but let's assume INDIVIDUAL ROI (from a career standpoint) isn't the first priority.

    There are 2 areas you need to think of here:
    1 - Thinking and behaving like a Service Desk Analyst
    2 - Knowing the tech to fix the issues.

    For point 1 the ITIL Foundation is useful but dull and has limited day-to-day functional use from the point of view of closing tickets. I would therefore recommend a more specific course such as:
    Service Desk Analyst | SDI

    For point 2 you have a trickier situation as the technologies vary from client to client and each one can have a range of versions of OS / software / hardware in play to make it impossible to find one course that fits all.

    To deal with this you are far better to train your staff in using the knowledge base / known error database to let them see how others have fixed the issue if it came up before and encourage them to find an area to focus in such as Windows 10, Office 365, SQL etc where they can move to be a subject matter expert over time and gain MCP / MCSA / CNA etc certs over time.

    Use in-house resources to run "lunch and learn" sessions once or twice a week and make attendance of one mandatory. This way they all get some exposure to the key tech in use and hear from the more experienced staff on the common issues they deal with - peer training has worked successfully for me in a few companies now.

    Just a few thoughts for now, but the landscape out there is so varied that I don't think one cert could ever encompass enough of it and still be manageable.
  • tmtextmtex Posts: 326Member
    I would at the least require A+, ITIL, Something on network but IMO CCNA is to much, ITIL within 90 days. Service Desks/Helpdesk are normally entry level and as you may know can be high turn around. 365 ( I am not a fan of, but administration is easy) is also becoming very popular
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Posts: 2,472Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    What does your metrics tell you?

    I would be willing to guess office 365 is going to be a big one. That would be my choice, a tech who can support office is gold, period.

    ITIL is goofy, you could download a 10 page Powerpoint presentation about customer service and best practice. What's the difference between a incident and a problem and a change request. A certification for that REALLY?! In fact like Uncle B stated, if you were going to go the certification track for these folks Service Desk Analyst | SDI would be much better for the service desk. IMO

    A+ has jumped shark unless you are desktop support.
  • swampratswamprat Posts: 72Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    While it's not a test, Denise Fishburne at Cisco puts on a wonderful session on troubleshooting methodology that I highly recommend to people

    https://www.ciscolive.com/online/connect/sessionDetail.ww?SESSION_ID=83413

    I'd add that to your employees' watch list
  • SweenMachineSweenMachine Posts: 288Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    UncleB wrote: »
    Can you clarify if you send them on training or expect them to do this off their own time? That will influence the training options.



    There are 2 areas you need to think of here:
    1 - Thinking and behaving like a Service Desk Analyst
    2 - Knowing the tech to fix the issues.

    For point 1 the ITIL Foundation is useful but dull and has limited day-to-day functional use from the point of view of closing tickets. I would therefore recommend a more specific course such as:
    Service Desk Analyst | SDI

    For point 2 you have a trickier situation as the technologies vary from client to client and each one can have a range of versions of OS / software / hardware in play to make it impossible to find one course that fits all.

    To deal with this you are far better to train your staff in using the knowledge base / known error database to let them see how others have fixed the issue if it came up before and encourage them to find an area to focus in such as Windows 10, Office 365, SQL etc where they can move to be a subject matter expert over time and gain MCP / MCSA / CNA etc certs over time.

    Use in-house resources to run "lunch and learn" sessions once or twice a week and make attendance of one mandatory. This way they all get some exposure to the key tech in use and hear from the more experienced staff on the common issues they deal with - peer training has worked successfully for me in a few companies now.

    Just a few thoughts for now, but the landscape out there is so varied that I don't think one cert could ever encompass enough of it and still be manageable.

    Great advice. We already do a lunch and learn approx once a quarter. It is hard to REALLY leverage the rest of the technical staff because generally speaking my team is the only one on an RMC, the rest are billable by hour staff so, of course, billable effort trumps non-billable training (it shouldn't but that is just how it always seems to go)

    As far as requirement, it is done on company time. This is part of why I was looking for 'one' uniform certification or (as suggested here) perhaps training course to have them take. I was able to use the HIT as a barometer pretty quickly to how they would fit in to our culture, based on it's (fairly) easy nature. I suppose perhaps that is what I am looking for most, a barometer.

    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone!
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Posts: 2,472Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    Sween one last thing.

    If you certify them you make them more marketable and other vultures, aka companies could come in a swoop them. If you train them with just courses etc, and not certify them the return is as much to the enterprise but it will be more difficult to market themselves.

    Watch out for spending dollars on certs, they can leverage them into a new position.......

    The HIT to be honest made a lot of sense to me, but I wouldn't go crazy with certifications....... Lunch and learns, keep it cheap.
  • SweenMachineSweenMachine Posts: 288Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    swamprat wrote: »
    While it's not a test, Denise Fishburne at Cisco puts on a wonderful session on troubleshooting methodology that I highly recommend to people

    https://www.ciscolive.com/online/connect/sessionDetail.ww?SESSION_ID=83413


    I'd add that to your employees' watch list

    This is great! Thank you!!

    -scott
  • SweenMachineSweenMachine Posts: 288Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Sween one last thing.

    If you certify them you make them more marketable and other vultures, aka companies could come in a swoop them. If you train them with just courses etc, and not certify them the return is as much to the enterprise but it will be more difficult to market themselves.

    Watch out for spending dollars on certs, they can leverage them into a new position.......

    The HIT to be honest made a lot of sense to me, but I wouldn't go crazy with certifications....... Lunch and learns, keep it cheap.

    This is something I struggle with personally, because the good guy in me WANTS them to pursue certifications to elevate their career, regardless of whether it is with my company or not. I knew the CompTIA HIT had no real value outside of a very small niche (which is why it was retired) but the employee felt they were getting something they could take with them after they leave the service desk. That is part of the reasoning behind looking for another 'entry' certification for them to obtain.

    Perhaps I need to change my approach. Maybe I should create an internal 'certification' that they must pursue, which is based on some simple troubleshooting methodology videos like the one posted by swamprat. I could create a curriculum that lasts approx. 4 weeks, and have a test after. It will accomplish what I need without really having to dig too deep into the pocket book.

    One thing I will mention, is from a sales perspective, having the entire service desk certified in CompTIA HealthcareIT and HIPAA certified (we use a 3rd party of this) has been a HUGE selling point. I know that there are certifications that have no real ROI for individuals but you will be surprised how well the CompTIA name sells to decision makers when you say your WHOLE org is certified in CompTIA.

    -scott
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Posts: 2,472Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    Sween - Those options you mention are right on par, if the certification is a win / win for both parties why not if the cost is reasonable. HIT made sense it really does, well done imo.

    Office 365 is GREAT, but my God you just gave everyone of your service desk members the ability to leave your operation for more money. That's a bad deal.

    I would think the SD Analyst HDI cert could bring value, with soft skills and the focus on customer service which is huge. Look outside the box as well, Hilton (The hotel company) has world class training. Maybe you could get some CBT's that could help make the desk members more aware.

    Instead of certs, bring in a office 365 trainer for 2 days and have them go over the core programs you use, Excel, Outlook etc. If the cost is right.....

    And to your point, maybe just some customized training specific to your company. You are the manager, if your folks start bouncing that could look poorly on and your strategies.

    Assign SME duties to your senior members and maybe only train one person with the expectation he or she would funnel the information to the other team members. Keep their knowledge silo'd though so they can't market it on the job market.

    Good luck
  • 9bits9bits Posts: 138Member
    For a single cert, there's probably not a better choice than A+. It teaches the basics of hardware and troubleshooting skills, which is most of what they'll need. As for good customer service, I think that's hard, if not impossible, to teach. Some people are naturally good with it and enjoy, other people hate it. I think it comes down to personality profiles more than anything, so perhaps have each potential hire take a Myers-Briggs personality test so you can see where they land.

    Also, if you're concerned about employees walking after getting certified, it's kind of hard to do with an A+. At best it would only help them with a lateral move, but at the same time it gives them something tangible to feel good about. Win-win for both sides.
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