Email blitz giving IT staff information overload

service desk software

May 5, 2008

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Almost a quarter of IT support staff waste up to two hours each day reading irrelevant emails, an industry survey has found. And a further 40% spend up to one hour studying emails which are not related to their jobs, according to the survey conducted by specialist software supplier House-on-the-Hill among delegates at the Service Desk and IT Support Show at London’s Olympia in April.

The research shows that staff working on the front line of IT support are struggling with information overload each day, said House-on-the-Hill Director Trudy Broadhead.

While this is symptomatic of the ease with which correspondence can be sent over the Internet it is far wider than an issue of simple spam, she added. Managers need to tighten up procedures and monitoring of incoming and outgoing emails to ensure their staff’s time is as productive as possible. Around 9% of respondents said incoming irrelevant messages took up more than two hours of their time every day.

Half those surveyed said they sent between 21 and 50 work-related emails daily, with 25% saying they issued between 51 and 100. One in three reported receiving between 51 and 100 work-related emails on each shift.

The survey sounded a note of caution about the number of automated emails, such as auto-acknowledgements from Help Desks, being received by support staff and service users.

Over one-third of professionals said that, as end-users, they received too many of these notes with only 14% judging that they received too few. More than half felt the number of automated emails they received was about right.

Auto-acknowledgements can be very useful in giving end-users the reassurance that the problem they reported is being dealt with, Trudy Broadhead commented. But there is evidence here that a significant minority of service users feel they are being bombarded with emails they do not really require.

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