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The HELPDESK Function - 1st / 2nd / 3rd Line Support

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by fatp, Mar 6, 2008.

  1. fatp

    fatp Byte Poster


    Most people understand the basic concept behind the helpdesk - to resolve a users/clients computer/i.t related problems.

    But my question is: how do you differentiate between the different tiers 1st Line, 2nd Line and 3rd Line?

    I have also heard the term 4th Line support being used???

    My personal understanding is that 1st Line is taking calls and 'call logging' in effect. But what is 2nd and 3rd?


    FatP 8)
  2. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

    This varies widely depending on the organization.

    In some cases there aren't so many levels - others will have many levels.

    As you say - 1st line is often mostly script-readers and info-takers.

    2nd often deal with harder cases, and 3rd with the most difficult cases.

    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
    Honorary Member

    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

    I concur with harry there:rocks

    The place where I work, 1st line is help desk which should log person name, number, computer number, Dept and what the problem is. They should also tell the user what the job number is but very rarely do!:dry

    2nd line usually confirms the correct info/data about the user location, AD account and where the computer is located. Also then sends it onto 3rd line to arrange call out or installation.

    But these day's 2nd/3rd line are mixed together and me and my colleages within the hardware/software support team often have to do a bit of detective to find out what the problem is, where the user is and what the PC number is.:rolleyes: Before contacting the user to arrange a convenient time with them. (3rd line support).

    :hhhmmm I'm not really sure what a 4th line would be?:blink
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  4. Mr.Cheeks

    Mr.Cheeks 1st ever Gold Member! Gold Member

    Yep - whats mentioned above are what 1/s/3 liners are, sometimes, the roles are diff.

    what 2nd line are doing in UCM's comment, is what 1st liners do where i work...

    4th line could be system admins, architects, etc, but then that could be the role for 3rd line in some places...

    It all depends on the company you work for
  5. sunn

    sunn Gigabyte Poster

    As mentioned above, it all depends on the company.
    Where I am, the 1st line is even broken into further categories. On the network side, 1st line opens the ticket and attempts to resolve. If escalation is required, 2nd level is tapped. 3rd level is the Engineering/Architect teams.

    Furthermore, only 1st line has access to production equipment. If a change needs to be applied (fix or project dependant) the 3rd level will ensure it is lab tested, and creates the appropriate docs. 2nd level will review and explain it to 1st level. 1st level will apply/implement.

    Yeah – we actually do this! Yeah – it actually works! I’m 3rd level, so walking staff through what they should see without being able to log in is frustrating, but it does keep everybody honest. It also helps to carve a great relationship with the other support levels.
  6. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

    In my company:

    1st - call loggers, try and resolve problems as they come in
    2nd - desk-side engineers, installation, system-management, networks, software team, user account team
    3rd - real investigative work normally on system wide level
    4th - there is one, but I don't have a clue who they are and what they do.
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
    WIP: 70-293
  7. wizard

    wizard Petabyte Poster

    The 4th level probably likes it that way, keep out the way no work to do then :twisted:
    Certifications: SIA DS Licence
    WIP: A+ 2009
  8. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    The first rule of 4th line techs...

    ...is to deny the existence of 4th line techs. :ninja
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  9. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

    In reality, if you follow any sort of 'real' management processes (like (ptui) ITIL) there isn't any such thing as fourth line 'support'. I've never worked anywhere where 'fourth line' existed in any real sense - they would be System or Network Engineers (usually senior ones) in the vast majority of organisations. In reality, I can't understand a modelt hat has 'second line' support simply confirming information about user accounts and location of PCs - that sounds 100% like a first line job to me.

    In my experience of working in larger organisations, it goes something like this:

    First line: Take calls, log them on the ticketing system, provide reference numbers, basic troubleshooting (password resets, network connectivity, power to the machine/monitor etc)
    Second line: Receive calls passed from first line, deal with 'known issues' that may be slightly more complex or require a bit more technical knowledge (application issues, profile problems, simple network troubleshooting etc)
    Third line: Deal with 'problem' issues that are regularly manifesting. For instance, an organisation that uses Citrix may be experiencing issues with a particular app that requires troubleshooting - this could include the way the app was published, the way the terminal server is set up, differences between individual servers in the farm, the user account settings being overridden by a GPO, TS or Citrix licensing etc. etc.

    Above that would be the mythical 'fourth line' - who would be System & Network Engineers responsible for ensuring the network and systems are functioning well enough that the helpdesk aren't suddenly overrun with 400 calls that all say "our mission critical sales app has just crashed and I can smell burning from the server room"...

    This would be MY role, BTW :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  10. Liqua

    Liqua Bit Poster

    We only have 2 tiers of IT staff -

    1st line who are the "face" of IT that people see on a daily basis, sorting problems like user account lockouts, broken mice & k/bs, etc.

    2nd line who sort out the rest of the cr*p like broken servers, faulting internet lines, etc. Thankfully we split the tasks up into groups that we specialise with. There's only 3 of us - collegue and boss - so we get to do quite a bit more interesting stuff !

    There are some though who add the word "senior" to their signature - I guess in a way differentiate themselves a little bit between tiers as they've been with the company some time and want to join 2nd line. :biggrin
    Certifications: CCNA, SND, ITIL Foundation
  11. ManicD

    ManicD Byte Poster

    I think the lines are pretty blurry, but the best way i can describe what i belive the lines to be are as follows:

    1st Line - Takes calls, logs details,arranges 2nd line support, if yoru very lucky might offer advice of simple programs and issues e.g. error: printer out of paper advice: add more paper...

    2nd line - Contacts customer, resolves issues over phone or small issues over remote login. Arranges 3rd line support

    3rd line - Goes out to customer and deals with larger issues, replacing parts in machines, installing software/upgrades, fixing tricky bugs, arranges 4th line support

    4th line (Normally sourced out to external companies) - Deals with detailed issues, maybe retriving vital data from completly dead hard drives/Flash drives by disassembiling them. Re-programming custom software to fix bugs and better meet the customers needs. Designing/Implimenting new segments of the network (physical/logical).
    Certifications: MCSA, N+, A+(Tech), ECDL
    WIP: 70-294, 70-298
  12. Mr.Cheeks

    Mr.Cheeks 1st ever Gold Member! Gold Member

    mine is similar to Zebos
  13. The_Geek

    The_Geek Megabyte Poster

    At a large communications company I used to work at, we had T1 (call takers), T2 (ticket workers), and T3 (for the T2's to go to for help). However, if you took a T1 call and couldn't resolve the issue yourself, you were trained until you could resolve it. That way the company, in essence, had a whole department of T2/T3's on T1 salary. :D
    Certifications: CompTIA and Micro$oft
    WIP: PDI+
  14. ally_uk

    ally_uk Nibble Poster

    1st Line - Take Calls, try and resolve issue via phone and hands on, Basic hands on of network
    i.e ping tracert, troubleshooting physical layer of OSI i.e network card and cable issues.
    Small knowledge of Active Directory i.e changing user's password etc, Must be good at making
    teas and coffees when requested :)

    2nd Line - More knowledgeable in areas of troubleshooting hardware and software good knowledge
    of inhouse software and supporting networks i.e good sound knowledge of TCP/IP and dealing with
    servers. ( May possibly also be a combined developer position ) good knowledge of
    Active directory and Exchange.

    3rd Line - Administrator role i.e daily maintenance of servers and managing groups, user accounts

    You may have extra external support in the form of companies that specialise in certain areas i.e Cisco equipment.

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