CivicActions Help Desk and Agile

CivicActions' help desk practices follow Agile principles as follows:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

We treat each user interaction as the one-of-a-kind human event that it is. While we certainly make use of tools like automated ticket workflows, canned answers and the like, we never allow these tools to prevent us from the fundamental job of good help desk support: to hear a question, understand it correctly, and then to answer it quickly and helpfully.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

In the occasional instances where users' needs come into conflict with other factors (project schedules, necessary maintenance, design goals) we advocate for users, remembering always that websites exist to serve users' needs, not vice versa. In our work, documentation is crucial — but we update documentation as we go, so that it can be continuously improved, and never consider any documentation as final or complete. When in doubt, we prioritize user experience.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Every help desk interaction requires, before anything else, hearing a user clearly. Users often know more about the true experience of using a website better than we do, and we prioritize learning from them so that we can improve. We also pass what we've learned along to other members of the CivicActions team, so that we can prioritize making the user experience better through our work together. For help desk projects in which we work closely with a client, we prioritize listening to and understanding their needs, understanding that these may change during our work together.

Responding to change over following a plan

Help desk support is inherently resistant to plans: we respond to the needs and timing of our users as flexibly and creatively as necessary. That said, we optimize our work to patterns that emerge in the work, and we continually refine and improve our tools (including canned answers and templates, reporting, workflows, queue structures, etc) in order to better reflect what we've learned from our users from analytics, data and the stories we're told by our users.