Help Desk Software – Managing Your Most Important Assets – Your People

In any organization where you have a dedicated support staff covering IT issues, you have a valuable asset on hand. It’s also an asset that you may not be using as efficiently as you might think. This asset is your help desk team.Most organizations realize they need help desk software long after they’ve assigned their help desk personnel, and have established policies. Some organizations, such as small school districts, put technicians in each building at first. This usually results in a technician whose constantly being interrupted by stakeholders who want to know how their project is coming along.Help desk software will help considerably with this issue. Each trouble ticket gets entered into a central repository, where it can be assigned by type (Mac or PC, printing problems or some other criterion) to an open queue, where workers can take it out.Hosted help desk software is the latest iteration to this basic idea; the central database of trouble tickets is hosted on a web site (either one that your business runs, or one that you lease through a specific services provider) and this allows anyone with a web browser coming from the right range of IP addresses to look at the problem queue.Hosted help desk software lets your technicians report in from the field, as they resolve problems. Even better, they provide your end users with a convenient way to look up problem tickets and see what has been done; freeing them from the urge to flag down a tech when they see her walking down the hall.Many help desk software solutions also provide the ability to set up a knowledge base; this will act as a series of pre-programmed questions that will let some of your end users solve their problems directly without generating a ticket at all. On the other end of the spectrum, help desk software packages make it easy to escalate an issue to the next level up in your support team, from opening help desk calls to second tier and even third tier support.In addition to this, well managed help desk software will allow the person who submits a ticket to sign up for updates on the status of the job, often times with filters attached, such as when a technical support agent changes it from open to pending, or cites it as being fixed. This greatly improves the overall transparency and accountability in your organization, and improves the customer’s knowledge of what’s going on.The generalized utility of help desk software is in measuring how effective your support is. Good software can tell you what your most common categories of support calls are, and can even track which of your employees handles which problems most efficiently.Some help desk software is also integrated into asset management software, utilities that can canvass your entire network for certain types of software and build up a specific inventory of every asset you own. This can be a great tool when it comes to checking to see if your office is in compliance with software licenses for commercial products.

There is an excessive amount of traffic coming from your Region.


Disney Here We Come! Free Flights and Hotel Included!

Every parent knows that Walt Disney World is a great vacation destination, and they also know it is an extremely expensive one. So, what’s this “free flights and stay” stuff? Glad you asked…Recently, Marci and I realized that our soon-to-be 9-year-old daughter last experienced Disney at age 4, and she does not remember much of it. So, we made a decision: 5 nights at Disney World in Spring 2016!Being the cost-minded guy I am, the first thing I thought was “the tickets are going to absolutely slay me, and there are no awesome discounts on those, so what can I get for free?” Air and hotel instantly leaped to my mind. And this is where having a diversified points and miles strategy really comes into play. Let me explain.The two cards that made this whole trip possible (Chase Sapphire Preferred and Starwood American Express), both earn flexible points, which are the best kinds of points to have. I can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a fixed rate of 1.25 cents per point toward travel (through the Chase website), but I can also transfer my points to the loyalty programs of Chase partners such as Southwest, United, Hyatt, and others (hence the “flexible” part). When I transfer my points, I can get greater value out of them (for example, Southwest is typically going to yield somewhere between 1.4 and 1.6 cents per point, which is obviously better than the 1.25 cents per point I just mentioned). For our trip, we will fly Southwest to Orlando from Atlanta, and we won’t need a ton of points to do so (since Atlanta to Orlando is a low fare and Southwest bases the points required on the fare), For the four of us, we are probably looking at around 45,000 – 50,000 Southwest points to get there and back. So, our airfare is covered with Chase points after we transfer them to my Southwest account. Incidentally, Starwood points can be transferred to over 30 different airlines, hence their placement in the “flexible” category. They can be used both at Starwood hotels and for a wide variety of flights.For this Disney trip, Marci and I wanted to stay somewhere fairly nice and close to the parks without having to a) spend a ton of money or b) commit to Disney’s “Deluxe” hotels, which easily run $300-$500 a night during busy seasons. As many of you Disney aficionados already know, Starwood owns the Dolphin and Swan hotels, which are on Disney property and are incredibly close to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, but they are not actually owned by Disney. As such, I can use Starwood points toward my stay at either of these two hotels. The Swan and Dolphin hotels are Category 4 hotels, which means they cost 10,000 points per night. If I had to rely on just my points earned from my everyday spend, it would take me forever to save enough points for 5 nights one night. But, when I signed up for the card, I got 25,000 points after meeting the spend requirement. After putting $15,000 total on the card, I have 40,000 points, and that is enough for 5 nights… wait, I thought you just said it was 10,000 points per night, Jim! Ah, the even better part. With Starwood stays paid with points, your fifth night is free! So, 40,000 points gets me 5 nights rather than just 4.Now, how much is this really saving me? Well, the flights (as priced today) are around $900 for the four of us. The hotel would be about $300 a night, but I also do not have to pay the tax since there is nothing to tax. So, that’s between $1600 and $1700 in hotel savings right there. Note: we do have to pay a resort fee and parking (for our rental car), but to save that much for that hotel? It’s a no brainer. All totaled, that’s around $2500 in savings, which for us working families is a life saver. But as I always say… when I have saved this much on the trip, I will put some of that back into the other aspects of the vacation, e.g. dining, souvenirs, and tickets. I’m not looking to be a cheap skate… I am looking to live large without spending large! And so can you!My tip for couples who want to duplicate what I am doing (assuming you are comfortable with signing up for credit cards): first, only one of you needs to apply for the Starwood American Express, though you can both apply and combine your points and reach the 40,000 point goal faster if you don’t have the time to put the extra spend on one card. The other person, or both of you, can apply for the Sapphire Preferred, assuming you can meet the combined minimum spends on all of the cards. If you can’t meet the spend on these cards simultaneously, then get the Starwood card first since room availability will get tougher as time goes on. Then move on to the Sapphire card. Southwest will always let you use points for their flight if a seat is available, and that is one of the reasons I love them. One last note: if Southwest is not a great option where you live, you can also transfer your Chase points to your United account (if that airline works better for you) or simply use the Chase points through Chase’s travel portal for slightly less value, but unlimited flexibility.If you want to stay on Disney property at a non-Disney hotel, then the Swan and Dolphin are just about the best you can get. With regard to the flights portion of your trip, I am merely using the Chase Sapphire Preferred as an example of how to get there. There are lots of other cards that can help you get there as well, but the point of the article is: you can have this vacation, too!