What’s the Difference? Help Desk vs. Service Desk

What Does It All Mean?  

What is the difference between a help desk and a service desk and does it even matter? If we are getting technical, the answer is yes. The two terms, though often interchanged, do refer to two different forms of service. Here’s an easy way to keep them straight! 

Help Desk vs. Service Desk 

Help Desk – A help desk is there to help. When an issue arises, you would reach out to your IT help desk and they would assist you in resolving the problem.  

Service Desk – A service desk provides you with a service. This can confuse people because technically resolving an IT issue at a help desk is a service. The difference is that the service is something that is consistently provided to a customer. Often, when people talk about service desks it is linked to managed IT as a service.  

The History of the IT Desk  

Is the term help desk outdated? Help desk started to gain a lot of traction in the 1980s in the world of IT, but what was its original definition? Like the description above, ‘help desk’ was mentioned to describe a new prompt issue resolution in IT support. As time went on, people started using the term broadly, and that’s when things got a little messy. 

Why Does It Matter?  

The plain and simple fact is that if you do not understand these terms, you may not know what you are getting when you hire in-house staff or outsource your IT.   

Service Desks & IT Service Management (ITSM) 

So, how does IT Service Management (ITSM) relate to service desks? Well, there are plenty of ITSM platforms out there, and several of them have the wording ‘service desk’ as part of their description. What does this mean?  

This means that this IT Service Management platform has many capabilities/tools that benefit or support the functionality of a service desk. 

Explaining ITSM Platforms  

Even though the correlation with ITSM relates to employees in the IT industry, there are several industries that can benefit from using a service management platform. Let’s break this down. A service management platform can be defined as any software solution developed specifically to help you manage projects or non-project tasks. So, any company that needs help with task management and organized communication would profit from using a service management platform. 

Final Thoughts  

Have you mastered the difference between a help desk and a service desk?  Whether you are looking into ITSM or just wanting a better understanding of IT support terms, this blog helps provide a great foundation. 

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