Notes for the new user


You have wisely availed yourself of the very cutting-edge in service systems management. Unlike anything else on the market, this is custom software. Please understand, we've done something no other software developer has dared even attempt for the general market—creating a unique, electronic map of your particular service territory, one that will instantly show each of your scheduled jobs graphically, temporally, and in reference to the tech-assigned. We've created a list containing just your streets, with grid references to the paper map you use, and, more importantly, with each such street also ready to cross-reference to positions on that magical electronic screen (see section that begins at page 323 for a summary of your custom information). There is simply nothing else like this, offered anywhere, and we’ve only described the beginning. You're in for a treat in the coming weeks as you discover the plethora of wondrous things ServiceDesk will do for you!

This manual is structured to help you get ServiceDesk setup and productively running within the shortest possible time. You are probably anxious to experiment, and obviously there is no need to read very much here before doing so. Simply read what you need in terms of installation and setup from the second and third chapters (if needed). Then, you may either launch immediately into unguided exploration, or follow the “guided” exercises that begin in Chapter 4 (“Getting the Basics”). Regardless, those guided tours are helpful, and we seriously urge you to read and follow them before proceeding past in the manual.

After doing so, you’ll find a series of discussions (still in Chapter 4) that are designed to give you a broad-brush understanding of ServiceDesk structure. A "big picture" comprehension is essential if you’re to avoid drowning in details later on. It will give you a place to mentally "hang" every detail as it’s later described.

Speaking of which, there is something important we must explain about ServiceDesk: Its initial implementation is not completely easy. There is so much the system does, and so much of is novel in terms of how it automates and simplifies, you have al ot to learn. Obviously, learning takes dedication and effort. Indeed, it will be a little like learning to ice skate. While still in the uphill effort, it’s no fun, but as you start getting the hang of it, things will begin to fly effortlessly and with grace.

In designing software, there is a tradeoff. We could give you a system that would be completely easy from the start. Problem is, it wouldn’t do much. If you want a system that makes your life as easy as it can possibly be, that system must include mechanisms to cope with the huge variety of tasks you perform. And there are many such tasks, for the service business is a very complex one. Unavoidably, if comprehensive, software must incorporate the same complexity, producing an irony. While ServiceDesk indeed makes every operational task more easy, simple and effective than you ever dreamed possible, your initial task (again, when learning how all the pieces fit) will not be so easy.

This is our way of saying you need to hunker down and commit yourself to serious work. You will not succeed without discipline and focus. It’s back to school now, and must be. The world is charging ahead, and you mustn’t be left behind.

In particular, please focus on the “investment” concept. You know what it is: make an extra expenditure now (perhaps even one that you’re stretching to make, and whether consisting of money, effort, or whatever)—for the sake of reaping a long stream of much greater rewards (that repay the investment over and over again) later on. Consider that he who refuses to invest fails to reap that wondrous/endless reward stream. Time and again, we’ve seen businesses purchase ServiceDesk while being unwilling to invest anything more than a trifling effort in learning how it works. It’s like they’re shooting themselves in the foot. For months and years after, they continue to work much harder than need be (and often with greater frustration)—simply because they were unwilling to invest more reasonably up front. Please don’t let this be you.

And please don’t say you’re “too busy” to make this investment. You purchased ServiceDesk for the very reason you need to get more work done in less time, and that transition cannot occur unless you make the time to learn (find it, create it somehow). You’ll be in the endless circle of “not enough time, not enough time”) until you do.

We have, of course, worked to ease this learning process—in your conversion to modernity—as much as possible.

To begin, please understand you’re not expected to read all of this very thick manual. Much of what’s here is resource material, to be consulted only when needed. What we do expect you to read is all of this chapter, and onward through Chapter 12.

As you’re focusing in particular on Chapters 3 through 8, please bear in mind each of those has a corresponding video lesson. At the top of each such chapter is a boxed paragraph that indicates the particular lesson you should watch in its connection. Since “a picture is worth a thousand words,” we strongly urge that you watch each such corresponding tutorial—in conjunction with reading the chapter—as a packaged exercise. The reading will be more meaningful if having watched the video, and vice versa. Indeed, for greatest benefit (and if you can make the time), we suggest sandwiching two viewings of the video around a single reading of the corresponding chapter.

As another means of easing your learning process, we’ve deliberately structured ServiceDesk so you can, if preferred, implement its various areas of operability one step at a time. This can make it easier, for instead of having to swallow so huge a chunk at once, you can do it in more easily digestible bits.

To implement this step-by-step system, you should begin by proceeding normally through Chapter 4 (“Getting the Basics”). Then, skip ahead to Chapter 13, which describes and will guide you through the stepby-step program. One of the benefits (besides the fact you’ll likely find the transition easier), is you’ll get started in actual ServiceDesk use much sooner. The reason is you only have to understand a single area before using it. By this means, you can start using particular areas of ServiceDesk within days (or even hours) of receiving your package.

As a general recommendation, we urge you against being too impatient in the desire to see each and every function from the get-go. The learning process is a layered one, and it’s hard to understand more advanced layers until you’ve first developed a foundational understanding of more basic ones.

Besides the above aids, we are also available to give you direct assistance—whether via plain telephone conversation, email, or by linking directly to your computer and working as though sitting by your side.

In our view, the learning process is appropriately perceived as a team effort. You must be the primary instructor, a self-taught student who diligently uses the self-teaching materials we’ve provided (including, of course, this manual). We expect you to put forth real labor and effort in this regard.

However, we do not expect you to struggle, especially to the extent of getting significantly frustrated— with anything. If there’s a matter on which you’ve exerted reasonable effort, and you’re still not finding the answer, please give us a call so we can help. While it’s true that, on the one hand, you can’t reasonably expect us to personally spoon feed you all the details about everything, it’s also true that if we can save you from an hour of frustration with a simple and quick telephone call, we absolutely want to do it.

In short, we expect you to do your part, but we want to do ours as well. In terms of exerting reasonable effort, we do expect you to read. One of the frustrating things for us (so that you know) is when someone calls wanting us to give them a long and detailed one-on-one teaching session regarding some aspect of operation, and they’ve not even read the applicable section in the manual. That’s not fair. Your ServiceDesk purchase does not include the involvement of our time for that kind of
instruction. It does include the involvement of our time if, by chance, you’ve done your own best possible homework first, and still need assistance.

In specific regard to the Appendix, it contains resource material that may be consulted if needed, but otherwise should be ignored.

In contrast, you’ll also notice there are many cross-references. These we suggest you ignore unless feeling a particular need to pursue the referenced matter (they’re really intended for the situation where, months or years down the road, you’ve gone back to a section when wanting to research a particular matter).

In regard to illustrations, you’ll find this manual has few. At one point it had none. From time to time on revising sections (and when realizing an illustration would be helpful), we’ve added them. Eventually, we hope to have it well illustrated. In the meantime, when reading about any particular feature in ServiceDesk,you’ll find it greatly aids your learning process if you’ll simply display that same feature (and experiment with it) in ServiceDesk.

So, having now described the general plan for your learning process, we'd like to proceed with a conceptual overview, explaining how ServiceDesk fits with other software systems. This will help you get some bearing regarding the kind of system you've purchased.

To begin, you should understand ServiceDesk is designed to address the needs of any operation whose primary task is sending personnel to a series of locations, throughout the day, performing jobs that will typically be completed within one or a few trips. In other words, it's ideal for appliance servicers, pool servicers, pest control companies, drapery cleaners, carpet cleaners, office equipment servicers, drain servicers, as well as plumbers, electricians, HVAC service companies and others.

In terms of business size, ServiceDesk is designed to fit anything from a one-man shop to operations up to about 60 techs. If your shop is small, please don’t be tempted (on reading various descriptions in this manual) to believe ServiceDesk is not for you. Though it has ample capacity for large operations, we’ve simultaneously kept it optimized for even the smallest. Indeed, our average client employs just three or four techs, and we have more one-man shops than any other size. There is some discussion in this manual you may disregard if your operation is small (stuff that applies particularly to larger operations), but rest assured the fundamental systems remain ideally suited for you—and when harnessed will help you just as much as larger operations.

Whatever your business size, if it’s to be modern, well-managed and efficient, it must address software needs in at least five areas. Four of these, bookkeeping/accounting, word processing, inventory control and customer database usage, are not unique to service. Such needs are found in virtually all businesses, and for years there have been many well-developed software to address them. For businesses involved in a service-call-performing environment, however, there's a unique fifth area of need, to manage the operations of call-taking, dispatch, and work-in-progress. A few packages have expanded from beginnings in other areas to peripherally address these more specialized functions, but ServiceDesk is the first to attack them directly, squarely, and thoroughly.

Happily, ServiceDesk also reaches beyond its own home turf to peripherally address some of those traditional areas, including inventory control and customer database functions. It also steps partially into bookkeeping/accounting, as it tracks sales, does billing, accounts receivable and funds control. Still, it does not do check-writing, compile your income statement or balance sheet, or do word processing. We've added to its core functions only to the extent there were no well-developed alternatives, or where it's easier to handle processes in the seamless context of a unified, single package environment.

Additionally, ServiceDesk now has superb PointOfSale functions (POS), which is an area we did not build into it initially.

Even so, we’ve intentionally avoided the temptation to make ServiceDesk do everything. Because of this, you’ll need to separately address word processing, check-writing and financial accounting. Generally, you’ll be very well-covered in those areas with a copy of QuickBooks and Microsoft Office.

But in regard to the rest, you’ll be superbly covered by letting ServiceDesk handle the third and fourth traditional areas (inventory control and customer database usage), along with some bookkeeping/accounting, and many other incidentals too numerous to mention. In particular and most especially, prepare yourself to enjoy our uniquely-focused fifth area, where we so ably address the fundamental operations of call-taking, dispatch and managing work-in-progress.

In concluding this introduction, two words of caution: First, ServiceDesk has a plethora of features designed to alert if any aspect of continuing maintenance, in regard to jobs and their management, breaks down. These work superbly when you are actually using ServiceDesk, but can be a nuisance otherwise. Specifically, if you create a few fictional records while initially playing around, then leave them for a few days, you’re likely to see a few warnings pop up. To at least minimize these warnings, please do not turn-on either of the two WipAlert features (within your ServiceDesk Settings form, see page 118) until such time as you begin using ServiceDesk for real operation.

Our second warning concerns paying attention to ServiceDesk messages. To some extent, you’re going to find ServiceDesk is like a devoted (but potentially nagging) spouse. If you pay attention and are solicitous to its communications, there will be harmony and happiness. If you turn a deaf ear and ignore, there is likely to be nagging, nagging and more nagging.

We’re not just being metaphorical. ServiceDesk is involved in managing a lot of things, and sometimes it needs your attention in respect to particular matters. It generally requests attention via a message. If you pay attention, and address the matter as requested, all will be good. If you do not, you’ll likely get that same message again, and probably others as well. If this is your pattern, before long you’ll find yourself being all but pelted with messages, continually throughout the day, every day—because there are so many matters ServiceDesk is pleading with you to pay attention to. It will be, literally, like the misery of living with a constantly nagging spouse.

It’s a “vicious circle” thing too. If you fail to pay attention initially, you’ll get more messages, then more. Eventually, in this pattern, you’ll find it makes “total sense” to ignore messages. After all, it’s impossible to read so many. The only mystery will be why ServiceDesk “bugs” you so much. Any message that comes up, you’ll just be like “click, click, click,” right through, without paying the slightest attention. And you’ll be monumentally less efficient, in all kinds of respects, because of it.

If you pay attention, by contrast (and address the matters being requested), you’ll get very few messages – so few that it‘s supremely easy to pay attention when the rare one comes along. You’ll be happy, ServiceDesk will be happy, and all will be well.

Pay attention, please. Don’t go click, click, click.

Again, thank you for buying a ServiceDesk package, and congratulations. You are now well on the way to making your own business more modern, efficient and profitable.