You forgot a password? You have problems submitting your members list? Whom you going to tell? Contact the HelpDesk! This new central service assists you in all AEGEE-related IT issues. You can also suggest improvements for AEGEE’s IT infrastructure. You are curious how the HelpDesk works? Sergey Peshkov, Fabrizio Bellicano, Maria Smirnova from AEGEE’s Information Technology Committee (ITC) answered the questions of the Golden Times.

Golden Times: Hello ITC! You created a Helpdesk for MyAEGEE. What is this about? What is the helpdesk?
ITC: The Helpdesk is a new service which has both a knowledge base for problems, and a platform to request support. For now it serves for IT issues, but can be expanded later to all common problems. The support people can link with one click the relevant knowledge base article, because we know the real problem is that people don’t read the information available – not the lack of information, or help better if the article was not helpful. Additionally, the knowledge base can be collaboratively edited and improved or commented upon, so there is the possibility to always improve the quality of the HelpDesk.

GT: With which kind issues can people contact you?
ITC: Right now we have the most common issues in IT, some privacy-related ones and a few others, for example, issuing a reference letter for a member. However, we hope to have all types of issues there soon. We only have to train the European bodies on how to be an agent, and they can start serving the network!

GT: How can people contact you properly? I heard better not by Facebook…
ITC: When people approach us through any other means than the HelpDesk, it’s more complicated than having everything in one place. Consider this example: one person is writing to us on Telegram, another one on Facebook, the third one on WhatsApp, the fourth one on email, and the fifth one on HelpDesk. And now we have five tickets to resolve and they are all in different places, so it’s really easy to forget about some of these.

GT: That makes sense.
ITC: Also, in the HelpDesk you have many agents, while in Facebook you contact one person privately who may be unavailable, and guess what – after just two or three different messages the original request disappears. Also in fairness, it is better to keep Facebook as a tool for friends; we don’t want to be thinking: “Oh, I received a message, there is a 50% chance that it is somebody wanting me to do something, or the other 50% is that somebody is asking me to go out tonight”. Another issue is, for now there is only three of us who deal with requests, but when there will be more people it would be not nice if all of the people start writing to one or two developers who have enough things to do.

GT: Obvious.
ITC: Also, the HelpDesk is way more convenient than other means. For example, every task has an assignee, which is the person who is in charge of resolving it, a status, which helps us to keep track of the amount of issues we have, and many others, as it is perfectly designed for dealing with this stuff.

GT: Usually helpdesks have office hours. Can people contact you anytime? And how fast will you resolve the issues?
ITC: The time to resolve the issue really depends on what the issue is. For example, resetting the password can be quite easy and fast, but adding some new complicated feature would definitely take time. We still have some tickets that are open for more than half a year, but it does not mean that we have forgotten about it – it just takes time. The general idea is: the more agents we have, the faster the response rate will be! We have not set office hours. Whoever can do something at whichever time, will do so. If something is urgent there are alerts, otherwise once a week at least one person will check for tasks and outstanding issues will be serviced first. Knowing that, people can raise requests at any time!

GT: How often per week and with what kind of issues do people contact you?
ITC: It really depends, we get the most tickets at event deadlines – for example, when the Agora Bucuresti members lists submission deadline approached, we got around 40 tickets. Most of them are really simple to resolve, like people forgetting their passwords or not understanding how the system works.

GT: Who are the AEGEE HelpDesk agents? And how do they work?
ITC: HelpDesk agents are just regular people, like you. They know how the system works from the inside and have all the permissions in the system and can help others resolving their issues. For now there are three of us: Fabrizio came up with the tool and provides Gsuite and GDPR support; Sergey is servicing all the bug fixes for MyAEGEE; and Maria, who recently joined the team and is thoroughly scanning through the queue, assigning the issues to the developers, and replying with the link that answers the common questions. Nevertheless, we are working on getting more members to join us.

Open and closed tickets in the system.

GT: The old Intranet didn’t really have a helpdesk. What is the benefit of creating this new service?
ITC: The intranet also didn’t have basic features. Let’s give you a use case: we have seen lots of people that need something done, but don’t know whom to ask – especially if they are new members. So they ask a friend who gives them the e-mail address of a person they know, who then says: “Ah yes, simply write an e-mail to this other address”. The new member now writes another e-mail to yet another address, and puts effort in it. There are countless mails like this: “Dear sir/madam, I am a member of <antenna> and I would kindly like to request <insert several other formalities>. Please reset my password”. And then the new member receives an answer like: “Hi, this is the mail team, not the Intranet team”…

GT: This doesn’t sound good at all.
ITC: We have seen this countless times! To avoid this frustration, there is exactly one place where to ask stuff, and in order to avoid all formalities and mumbo-jumbo which doesn’t help us troubleshooting, the text field gives some help in indicating what we would need to know in order to solve the issue better. No formalities needed – only basic politeness.

GT: How can people suggest a new feature or improvement for MyAEGEE?
ITC: HelpDesk is the place to go! When you have an idea how to improve something or some feature that can be useful, you can go to aegee.org/helpdesk and report it there. Please provide as much information as possible, so we can easily understand what’s required. Also, be ready to answer our questions if we need more information. Unfortunately, currently it is difficult to give any estimated time of the implementation, as we have a lot of tickets waiting for us already. But we will get to it at some point, don’t worry.

GT: Do you also have some FAQs, so that people don’t have to contact you with every matter?
ITC: Indeed, we do! In the HelpDesk’s knowledge base you can find a lot of useful and detailed How-to guides for MyAEGEE. Also, we regularly post such guides on our Facebook page.

GT: How do you see the future of the AEGEE HelpDesk? Do you for example deliver special services at statutory events?
ITC: For now we have to make basic steps: letting everyone know that there is a HelpDesk and how to use it. In the future of course expansions will be possible, but first we need the manpower.

 

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