Friday, January 17, 2014

Engineers vs. Help Desk Technicians

Second post coming out of my work combining two teams and creating a help desk.

I've spent a lot of time studying the different between an engineer and a help desk technician. I think it's easiest to approach it through bullet points:

When presented with a problem

  • A help desk technician takes down a name, a couple keywords about the issue, and searches a knowledgebase of some kind or takes the notes to a supervisor to ask them what to do.

  • An engineer has background knowledge about the system or technology that is having a problem. They wrote the code, created the configuration files, etc. They turn on the creative side of their brain and start working on a new solution.

When asked to give an opinion

  • A help desk technician panics because opinions aren't in the documentation.
  • An engineer spews forth sermons on the benefits of VI over VIM, chrome over firefox, etc.

When told they are going to support a new technology they haven't worked on previously

  • A help desk technician cringes because they have to memorize how to find more documentation
  • An engineer gets excited because they get to learn something new.
I may sound a little critical, but I'm not trying to be. I've been both of these roles at various times in college and after, and they're two different skill sets. One is just easier to train on a new job than the other. What's also interesting is that a person in either job title can act like the other, but one transition works better than the other.