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Solving problems with Parliament’s Digital Support Desk

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care, Experts in what we do, Start with user needs

I joined the PDS Digital Support Desk in December 2017. Before then, I had worked various jobs in numerous industries, from school librarian to mental health support worker. I wanted a career change, and I wanted to work somewhere that was interesting, diverse, and encouraging. By chance, I found the Digital Service’s advert online, and, after looking through the requirements, I realised I had enough transferable skills to apply.

The application process was straightforward and considerate. It wasn't some tiresome, ten-page form that requires you to upload your CV, then asks you to re-write it for the application itself. At interview the management team was very friendly. I was worried that my varied job history would work against me, but I quickly learned that the Digital Support Desk, while being inclusive and open to new faces, is also the best place to learn about IT for a newbie to the industry.

We're all quick learners here 

I had to learn quickly just what is expected of me as a desk analyst, both before applying and during my first few weeks on the job. With 9,000 users in Parliament, the desk is busy and challenging.

We analysts are the first port of call for Parliamentary customers, who range from kitchen staff, to interns, work experience students, and members of both Houses. It was a daunting experience at first, and customers can be demanding due to the time-sensitive nature of their work. Parliament never sleeps, and therefore the desk always needs to be ready to help get things done. Without functioning IT, the critical work of Parliament is affected.

You’ve called the desk, what’s next? 

As a first-line role, the Digital Support Desk speaks directly to people to help solve their IT issues. They call us with various problems, and we work to solve them. The queries we receive vary from day-to-day: a printer may have gone offline, or some emails are stuck in the outbox in Outlook. Sometimes, the issue is more complex. For example, the PC is unable to connect to the parliamentary network or Sharepoint has crashed.

Abigail answers a call from a user
Abigail at work taking a support call from a user

For most issues, desk analysts are expected to solve the problems in the first instance. We have a range of troubleshooting methods that we often refer to. Every fix we try with a user is then recorded in our database (called Cherwell). Every case has a ticket reference number, which refers to the record of troubleshooting for that issue. If you were to call us, you’ll probably hear frantic typing at the end of the line, it’s because we’re keeping an accurate record!

After we’ve done all we can, hopefully, the issue has been resolved. If not, we then must defer to the second-line team: the engineers.

Over to the engineers

Engineers tend to visit the offices on the estate to physically fix printers or update laptops. They can also help over the phone by applying more advanced methods that are unavailable to us on the desk. If engineers are unable to complete the fix (this is usually because there is a certain programme or code that they do not possess), then it goes up to the third-line, which is comprised of various teams that specialise in any one app or programme, like Cisco, Sharepoint, or SPIRE.

If your problem is persistent, the third-line might have to liaise with external third-party providers. These cases can take much longer to resolve.

It's not about being busy, it’s about being productive 

The busiest time for us is after recess. This September some of my colleagues received up to 60 telephone calls in one day. On a normal day, we all average about 25. It's a hectic job and sometimes it’s exciting, especially when I get to help an MP or Lord that I recognise. It reminds me that my job is important and integral to Parliament’s success.

To find out more about what PDS is doing to bring good customer service to Parliament, take a look at our Digital Strategy.

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  1. Comment by Paul posted on

    Great blog article Abigail and great advert for the team and jobs in Parliament.

  2. Comment by Rose posted on

    This is brilliant! A very accurate and well written description! Well done Abigail 🙂