Service Desk vs Help Desk vs ITSM: What’s the Difference?

help desk vs service desk

It can be difficult to keep track of all the related processes, frameworks, tools and acronyms. Along with all the obscure IT terms spread around the world, there are three key terms for IT support that we often find confused or misused:

Service desk (or “IT service desk”)
Help Desk (or “IT Help Desk”)
ITSM (“IT Services Management”)
Is the term help desk, service desk, or ITSM important to describe IT support? That’s right- with your IT support technology (for yourself or others) you can apply for less sales or more sales opportunities.

What is ITSM?

IT Services Management – Commonly known as ITSM – How IT teams manage to deliver a full range of IT services to their clients. This includes all processes and activities for the design, creation, distribution and support of IT services. The main concept of ITSM is that IT should be provided as a service.

Due to their day-to-day interactions with IT, people often misunderstand ITSM as the main IT support. In contrast, ITSM teams control all types of workplace technologies, from laptops and servers to business-critical software.

ITSM consists of several key processes commonly defined by ITIL – the most widely accepted framework or approach to ITSM. Here are some of the procedures:

Service request management
Module management
IT asset management
Event management
Problem management
Change management

You will notice that some processes – such as IT asset management, problem management and change management – are not beyond the scope of basic IT support. This is because ITSM covers all the activities related to IT business. Although the scope of ITSM is wide, service desks and help desks are more narrowly defined and represent only a small part of ITSM.

What is a service desk?

The ITIL service desk is defined as follows: “The only point of contact between the service provider and the user. The unique service desk develops event and service requirements and also interacts with customers.

This definition may seem a bit formal and vague, so here’s an easy way to explain it: The service desk is a communication centre where users (e.g. employees or other stakeholders) seek help from their IT help desk providers. As stated in the definition of ITIL Service Desk, this help may take the form of event resolution or service request, but the purpose of the service office is to provide the best quality service to customers on time.

Service tables also contain a number of ITSM activities. For example, the service desk typically includes ITSM activities including service request management, event management, knowledge management, self-service, and reporting. In general, problems and management processes have strong links to change.

The IT service desk helps users resolve an event or manage a service request, builds and manages departmental knowledge, automates services for clients who want to resolve incidents quickly and independently, and provides team and tool effectiveness metrics. Service desks may be more or less the same, but the point is that they are a powerful, service-oriented and customer-centric way of delivering IT assistance to clients.

What is a help desk?

The helper desk, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “usually a group of people who help and provide information about electronic or computer problems.” Given this definition, at first glance, it may seem that there is a difference between a help desk and a service desk, but here the keyword “user” is missing. The main focus of the help desk is only problem solving, while the main focus of the service desk is to provide services to customers or users. Service Desk Missing Help Desk Special emphasis is placed on service delivery and customer focus.