Commonly Used Terms in Information Technology (IT)

, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

7×24 (also 24×7)
Common shorthand for a service desk’s or support center’s coverage or hours of operation, meaning seven days per week, twenty-four hours per day, 365 days per year. Other common coverage hours are 5×8, 5×12, and 7×8.

Developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the 802.X standards define the physical and datalink layers of LAN architectures. For example, the IEEE 802.3 standard describes the cabling and signaling for a system nearly identical to Ethernet, while the 802.11x standards describe wireless networking.

Abandoned Call
A call in which the caller hangs up (disconnects) before an operator or analyst answers the call.
Abandoned Rate (also Abn, Abandon Rate, Abandonment Rates)
The percentage of total calls received where callers hang up or leave the queue before reaching a support team member. See Caller Tolerance.

Action Plan
A document used to guide the implementation of business process improvements. It contains task assignments, resource allocations, assignments, and evaluation criteria.

Action Taken Codes
A series of pre-established codes that identify possible alternative dispositions of customer calls. See Activity Codes or Wrap-up Codes.

Active Line
A telecommunication line that is currently available for data transmission; an active line.

A named process, function, or task that occurs over time and has recognizable results. Activities use assigned resources to produce products and services; combined, activities form business processes.

Activity Accounting
The collection of financial and operational performance information about an enterprise’s significant activities.

Activity Analysis
Breaking an enterprise down into manageable segments for detailed cost and performance analysis.

Activity Code
See Wrap-up Codes.

Activity Dependence

An activity intermeshed with other activities in such a way that the subsequent (i.e., dependent) activity cannot be executed until one or more outputs of other activities within the process have been received.

Activity Diagram
Graphical representation used to describe the step-by-step business and operational workflows of components in a system. An activity diagram shows the overall flow of control.

Activity Measure
A performance value assigned to an activity’s primary output.

Activity Model
A graphical representation of a business process that illustrates the activities that make up a business process, at any desired level of detail. An activity model depicts the interactions between activities in terms of inputs and outputs while showing the controls placed on each activity and the types of resources assigned to each activity.

Activity Model (as-is)
An activity model that portrays how a business process is currently structured. It is used to establish a baseline for subsequent business process improvement actions or programs.

Activity Model (to-be)
An activity model that results from a redesigned business process action or program. The to-be model shows how the business process will function after the improvement action is implemented.

Activity, Non-value-added
Any activity that provides a negative or zero return on the investment or allocation of resources to that activity. Within broad limits, the enterprise benefits by allocating fewer resources to non-value-added activities.

Activity, Value-added
Any activity that contributes directly to the performance of a process and to the return on investment of resources; such activities cannot be eliminated without impairing the process.

Activity-based Costing (ABC)
A form of cost accounting that focuses on the costs of performing specific functions (processes, activities, tasks, etc.), rather than on the costs of organizational units. Activity-based costing may generate more accurate cost and performance information related to specific products and services than is available to managers through traditional cost accounting.

Activity-based Management
A system of management that seeks to optimize the value added activities performed by the enterprise while at the same time minimizing or eliminating the non-value-added activities, resulting in overall improvements in the enterprise’s effectiveness and efficiency at serving its customers.

This acronym stands for Architecture Design, Analysis, and Planning Tool. ADAPT provides a complete picture of an information system infrastructure including computers, communication links, and devices, applications, and databases. ADAPT is based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software and can be used as a management tool to support inventory control, etc.

Adherence to Schedule
A general term that refers to how well analysts adhere to their assigned schedules.

After-call Work (ACW)
Work that is completed immediately after the conclusion of a call. After-call work often includes entering data, completing forms, or making outbound calls necessary to complete a customer transaction. During this period the analyst is unavailable for the next telephone call.

A common term used to indicate a service desk or support center employee whose primary job responsibility is responding to customer calls. These employees, which HDI calls support center analysts, typically provide first- or second-level support. See Analyst.

Agent Group
A collection of analysts who share a common set of skills, such as being able to handle customer complaints, reset passwords, or troubleshoot database problems. Often used when referring to call routing.

Agent-out Call
An outbound call placed by an analyst or agent.

Agent Status
The mode of an analyst when logged into a telephone system (e.g., Talk Time, ACW, Aux, Unavailable)

Agile software development is a group of software development methodologies based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, crossfunctional teams. Agile methodologies have spread into other disciplines, such as project management.

All Trunks Busy (ATB)
When all telephone trunks are busy in a specified trunk group. Reports indicate how often all trunks were busy and how long all trunks were busy, but what they do not reveal is how many callers received busy signals when all trunks were busy.


An accounting method typically used to apportion a cost or expense based upon estimated usage or volume. For example, the cost of operating a service desk or support center is often allocated to its various customer groups based upon headcount, number of workstations, or service volumes.

Allocation Routing
See Call Allocation Routing.

The frontline technical support professionals who receive and handle tickets, and who, typically, define problems and develop procedures for resolving them. Analyst is often used interchangeably with agent and/or technician.

Analytical Modeling
A technique that uses mathematical models to predict the behavior of a configuration item or IT service. Analytical models are commonly used in capacity management and availability management.

An outbound, recorded verbal message played for callers.

Answered Call
A call is counted as answered when it reaches a support center professional or an interactive voice response (IVR) system, or when referring to an agent group.

Application Sizing
Helps to understand the resource requirements needed to support a new application or a major change to an existing one, and to ensure that an IT service can meet its service level targets for capacity and performance.

(1) An organized framework consisting of principles, rules, conventions, and standards that serve to guide the development and construction activities such that all components of the intended structure will work together to satisfy the structure’s ultimate objective. (2) The basic design of a system, which determines the system’s capacity and upgradeability, how the components work together, and how they integrate with other systems.

Arrival Time
The time that a technician arrives on site in response to a service request.

As-is Model
A model that represents the current state of the organization, without any specific improvements included. Can be either an activity model or a rule model.

The specific analyst, other staff member, or outside consultant who is designated to manage and resolve a specific service request. The assignee may change multiple times during the life of the service request.

The process by which the responsibility for taking the next action for managing and resolving a customer service request is designated to a specific individual, function, or organization. Typically, the service desk or support center continues to monitor the service request and tracks it until the request is closed.

Any resource or capability. A service provider’s assets include anything that could contribute to the delivery of a service. Assets can be one of the following types: management, organization, process, knowledge, people, information, applications, infrastructure, and financial capital.

Asset Management
(1) The tracking and optimization of IT equipment and related products; the implementation of a set of operating and accounting procedures intended to maximize the return on investment (ROI) of the equipment assets of an organization, especially capital assets. (2) According to ITIL, asset management is the process responsible for tracking and reporting the value and ownership of financial assets throughout their lifecycle. Asset management is part of an overall service asset and configuration management process.

Asset Register
A list of assets, which includes their ownership and value; the asset register is maintained by asset management.

Asset Tracking

The process of recording the location, condition, status, and ownership of the equipment assets of an organization. See Asset Management.

(1) A property or characteristic of an entity. An attribute has a value and a name (often identified by singular, generic nouns). Attributes are used to identify and distinguish between entities and to provide descriptions of entities. (2) A piece of information about a configuration item. Some examples are, name, location, version number, and cost. CI attributes are recorded in configuration management databases (CMDB).

Audio Messaging Interchange Specification (AMIS)

A standard that links different voice messaging systems and remote locations so they can exchange messages in one large mailbox.
Audio Text
A system that provides callers with specific information in a prerecorded audio format, usually through an interactive voice response on the front end.

Auto Attendant
A system that allows callers to route their calls to a known telephone extension number or obtain the desired extension from the system. A touch-tone phone or speech recognition system is required. This feature is typically integrated with an automatic call distribution (ACD) system.

Auto Available
An ACD feature that automatically changes an analyst’s status to Available after they finish talk time and disconnect the call. See Auto Wrap-up.

Auto Greeting
A prerecorded greeting that plays automatically when a call arrives.

Auto Population (also Autopopulate)
A feature that automatically populates a field with specific information.

Auto Wrap-up

An ACD feature whereby the ACD is programmed to automatically put analysts into ACW after they finish talk time and disconnect from a call. When they have completed any after-call work required, they put themselves back into Available status. See Auto Available.


Tickets that are generated by monitoring software or self-monitoring devices. When there is an event that interrupts normal operation, a ticket is logged without needing human intervention.

Automated Attendant
A voice processing capability that automates the attendant function. The system prompts callers to respond to choices (e.g., press 1 for this, press 2 for that) and then coordinates with the ACD to send callers to specific destinations. This function can reside in an on-site system or in the network.

Automated Call
A call that is handled entirely by automated service delivery or call management systems and does not require the intervention of a human operator or analyst.

Automated Voice Recognition
The newest generation of IVR systems. Uses technology that enables a computer to interpret voice commands and convert them to data.

Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)

The telephone system used in call centers. A programmable device automatically answers, queues, distributes calls to agents, plays delay announcements to callers, and provides real-time and historical reports on these activities. The ACD may be a stand- alone system, or the capability may be built into a central office or network PC.

Automatic Escalation

A feature included in most case/ticket management systems that forwards an incident record to the next support center professional when there is a violation of a service level agreement.

Automatic Number Identification (ANI)

A telephone network feature that passes the caller’s phone number to the call center in real-time. ANI may arrive over the D channel of an ISDN PRI circuit (out-of-band signaling) or before the first ring on a single line (in-band signaling). ANI is delivered by long-distance companies; caller ID is the local phone company’s version of ANI and is delivered in-band. ANI is known as calling line identification (CLI) outside of North America.

Automatic Number Identification Service (ANIS)
A telephone service that automatically identifies the calling telephone number and displays this number at the receiving station or transfers it to an associated computer system, such as a problem management system.

Automatic Software Distribution (Push vs. Pull)
The distribution of software from remote locations with minimal operator intervention. The software programs can be distributed and installed directly on client workstations, requiring little involvement from the support center staff, operations, or customer.

Automation Tools
Applications that help the support center quickly prioritize, elevate, track, and resolve service requests either without or in support of the support center analyst. See Support Technologies.

Auxiliary Work State (also Aux, Aux Work)
An analyst work state that is not typically associated with handling telephone calls. When analysts are in auxiliary mode, they will not receive inbound calls.

See Adherence to Schedule.

Availability Management
Availability management is responsible for ensuring that all IT infrastructure, processes, tools, roles, etc. are appropriate for the agreed-upon service level targets for availability. Available State
The state in which analysts who are signed on to the ACD system are waiting for calls to arrive.

Available Time
The total time that an analyst or agent group waited for calls to arrive in a given time period.

Average Delay
See Average Speed of Answer.

Average Delay of Delayed Calls (ADDC)
The average delay time of calls that are delayed. It is the total delay for all calls divided by the number of calls that had to wait in queue.

Average Handle Time (AHT)
The sum of average talk time and average after-call work for a specified time period.

Average Hold Time
See Average Wait Time.

Average Holding Time on Trunks (AHTT)
The average time inbound calls occupy the trunks: (Talk Time + Delay Time) ÷ Calls Received = AHTT

Average Length of Call
The average time required to process a customer call, from initial receipt to final closure, including both on-phone and off-phone time. See Call Cycle Time.

Average Number of Agents
The average number of agents (analysts) logged into a group for a specified time period.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA)
The average delay of all calls, or the total delay divided by the total number of calls. ASA is one of the earliest metrics associated with handling telephone calls. It has slowly lost favor as the top metric for service level because averages tend to disguise queue times that a significant, though usually a minority, of callers actually experience. ASA is frequently used as an indicator of success without being analyzed in the context of a support center’s complete performance.

Average Speed to Abandonment
The average time that callers wait in queue before abandoning the call; the calculation considers only the calls that abandon. Speed to abandonment is influenced by numerous factors, all of which cannot be controlled by a support center. See Caller Tolerance.

Average Talk Time (ATT)
The average amount of time the agent spends talking to the caller, usually timed from when the call arrives at the agent’s station to the time the agent releases the call.

Average Time to Fix (ATTF)
The time between when the customer first reports an incident and the point at which a satisfactory resolution has been provided. See Mean Time to Repair.

Average Wait Time
The average length of time a caller holds before abandoning the call or being helped by an analyst. Also known as average hold time.

Cases that remain open or pending. This may be for various reasons, such as waiting for a spare part, but will also include cases the support center professional is currently researching. See Work in Progress.

Back-out Plan
A plan that documents the steps required to recover to a known working state if a change or release fails.

Balanced Scorecard (BSC)
The balanced scorecard is a strategic management system that allows managers to focus on key performance indicators (KPIs)s (KPIs) that drive success for a business or organization. In the technical support world, these KPIs are divided into four quadrants: customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, costs/productivity, and organizational maturity goals. Robert Kaplan and David Norton developed this performance measurement framework to add strategic nonfinancial performance measures to traditional financial metrics to give managers and executives a more “balanced” view of organizational performance.

Balanced Scorecard Service Model
The use of the balanced scorecard in a technical support or customer service environment.

Baldrige Award
An award named after the late Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige, the official title is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The purpose of the award is to encourage organizations to examine their current state of quality and become more involved in the movement toward continuous quality improvement.

Base Staff
The minimum number of analysts required to achieve service level and response time objectives for a given period of time. Base staff assume that analysts will be “in their seats” for the entire period of time. Therefore, schedules need to add extra people to accommodate breaks of all kinds, absenteeism and other factors that will keep analysts from their tasks. Base staff calculations are necessary for each communication channel that is being served.

(1) A standard for comparisons, a baseline is a reference position for measuring progress in process improvement. The baseline is usually used to differentiate between a current and a future representation by setting a reference point of your current services and comparing subsequent changes to that reference point. (2) The recorded state of something at a specific point in time. A baseline can be created for a configuration, a process, or any other set of data.

The act of obtaining a baseline.

In quality terms, benchmarking involves comparing products, services, and processes with those of other organizations to identify new ideas and improvement opportunities.

The process of comparing current levels of performance to past performance or another company’s performance.

Best in Class (Benchmarking)
A term identifying organizations that outperform all others in a specialized category.

Best Practice
A way or method of accomplishing a business function or process that is held to be superior to all other known methods based on independent, objective research or study.

Bill of Activity (BOA)
A listing of activities involved in the production of a certain output (cost object), together with the number of times each component activity is performed. When these factors are extended by the cost of each component activity, the result is the total unit cost of the final cost object.

Blended Support
Models in which various components of more traditional support are mixed or varied (e.g., onshore/offshore, service desk/desktop support, physical/virtual teams, and single-channel/multichannel support).

Callers blocked from entering a call queue.

Blocked Call
A call that cannot be connected immediately because either no circuit is available at the time the call arrives, or the ACD is programmed D is programmed to block calls from entering the queue when the queue backs up beyond a defined threshold.

An online diary or a chronological log of personal thoughts published on a web page. Also known as weblog or web log.

A technique that helps a team to generate ideas, though ideas are not reviewed during the brainstorming session, but at a later stage. Brainstorming is often used in problem management to identify possible causes.

A path within a decision tree. See Decision Tree.
Broadcast Message
A message transmitted to two or more locations on a network or to customers at multiple terminals or workstations.

Superseded by ISO/IEC 17799 and ISO/IEC 27001.

Superseded by ISO/IEC 20000.

The activity of assembling a number of configuration items to create part of an IT service. The term is also used to refer to a release that is authorized for distribution; a server build or laptop builds, for example.

Business Case
A deliverable intended for direct supervisors and executive management that offers a detailed explanation of the purpose, value, and objective of a project, as well as the estimated resource utilization, cost outlay, and return on investment.

Business Continuity Management (BCM)
Business continuity management is the business process that sets the objectives, scope, and requirements for IT service continuity management. BCM is responsible for managing risks that could seriously impact the business. It ensures that the business can always operate at a minimum agreed-upon level, by reducing the risk to an acceptable level and planning to restore business processes.

Business Continuity Plan (BCP)
A plan that defines the steps required to restore business processes following a disruption. The plan will also identify the triggers for invocation, the people to involve, the communications to send, etc. IT service continuity plans form a significant part of the overall business continuity plans.

Business Critical
A problem is classified business critical when job production or customer productivity is halted or when a deadline must be met.

Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

The activity in business continuity management that identifies vital business functions and their dependencies. These dependencies may include suppliers, people, other business processes, IT services, etc.

Business Intelligence
The information, primarily from computer-based analysis of business data, used to provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations.

Business Process Management (BPM)

The activities performed by a business or organization to optimize and adapt their processes to maximize efficiency, effectiveness, and cost. BPM is characterized by continuing and embedding process orientation in the business or organization’s culture.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
Leveraging technology or specialist process vendors to provide and manage an organization’s critical and/or noncritical enterprise processes and applications. The most common examples of BPO are call centers, HR, accounting, and payroll outsourcing.

Business Process Re-engineering (BPR)
A quality management methodology through which large quality increases are achieved by radically redesigning existing organizations, business processes, and operating methods. See Process Redesign.

Busy Hour
A telephone traffic engineering term, referring to the hour during which a trunk group carries the most traffic. The average busy hour reflects the average over a period of days (i.e., two weeks, one month, etc.). Busy hour has little use for incoming call centers, which require more specific resource calculation methodologies.

Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC), Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT)
A company or organizational policy that allows or encourages staff to use personal computers, smartphones, tablets, or other devices in the work environment. Employees are sometimes offered a stipend or allowance toward the purchase of equipment; sometimes they are entirely responsible for purchasing a device and requesting support from the vendor.

Calendar Time Elapsed
The amount of time that lapses between the receipt of the support request and when it is resolved. This may include time spent on other activities, such as waiting for parts or advice, or weekends.

A telephone call placed to the service desk or support center, typically from a customer that needs information or help solving a problem. Although call and problem are often used as all-encompassing terms for customer requests received from various communication channels (such as e-mail), the term service request is often more appropriate. See Service Request.

Call Accounting
Used to gather and monitor information about all telephone calling patterns, particularly long distance; also monitors incoming calls. Usually a computer-based system linked to a telephone system.

Call Allocation Routing
A method of statistically distributing calls among support centers based on historical patterns.

Call Avoidance (Call Management)
Techniques used to eliminate or divert telephone calls away from a support center. These techniques can include analyzing the root cause of problems and incorporating this information into future releases, versions, operations, or services. It can also include the development of alternative contact channels, such as e-mail, chat, and web self-service, which customers will use first, as opposed to making a telephone call.

Call Blending
Combining traditionally separate inbound and outbound agent groups into a single group of analysts responsible for handling both inbound and outbound contacts.

Call Capture Rate (CCR)
The percentage of total calls handled by the call center. CCR figures do not include abandoned calls.

Call Category
One of a set of pre-established classifications a call may be assigned to, such as hardware, software, or network. Call categories provide insight into the sources, types, or dispositions of calls. See Call Type.

Call Center
An operation that provides information, products, and services by telephone or electronic means. Call centers may be inbound, outbound, or a combination of the two. Technical support centers and service desks are frequently referred to as call centers. Although they share some of the same inbound telephone call dynamics, they are unique entities and generalized comparisons between call centers and technical support operations should be made with caution and with a complete understanding of the traits unique to technical support operations.

Call Control Variables
The set of criteria the ACD uses to process calls, such as routing criteria, overflow parameters, recorded announcements, and timing thresholds.

Call Cycle Time
The total time required to process a customer call, including call logging and initial diagnosis, research, resolution, follow-up, and closing the call. Note that the term call cycle time limits reporting to calls only versus all service requests. See Process Time.

Call Forcing
An ACD feature that automatically delivers calls to analysts who are available and ready to take calls. They hear a notification that the call has arrived (e.g., a beep tone), but do not have to press a button to answer the call.

Call Interval
Call volume per period, as defined in the service desk or support center’s ACD system. Used to measure the incoming call load in pre-established time frames (e.g., fifteen, thirty, or sixty minutes).

Call Load
Also referred to as workload, call load is the sum of the average talk time and average after-call work, multiplied by call volume, for a given period.

Call Logging
The process a support center professional performs while recording customer information in the case management system.

Call Management
Managing the information, processes, and systems used to control the flow of customer telephone requests in and out of the service desk or support center. Call management processes apply solely to customer requests received by telephone. See Call Avoidance.

Call Management System
Software and other systems that work with automatic call distributors (ACDs) and related technologies to manage, track, and report on call volumes and other call statistics. See Automatic Call Distributor and Problem Management System.

Call Metrics
Call measurements typically captured at the service desk or support center, such as daily call acceptance rates, total monthly call volume, daily ACD calls answered, delay before abandoning, delay before answering, and average daily call processing time. See Metrics.

Call Monitoring
The practice of listening in on live calls, primarily as an aid in training novice service desk or support center analysts and ensuring consistent customer service.

Call Processing
Executing the procedural steps required to manage and record the resolution of a customer call. These steps may involve logging the call, routing the caller to another group, following up on the call, and closing the call.

Call Processing Rate
The average length of time it takes to process a call. Reports may show daily call processing rates.

Call Resolution Rate (CRR)
The percentage of calls captured that are resolved by each support level or by the service desk or support center. See First Contact Resolution Rate, Call Capture Rate, and First Call Resolution Rate.

Call Routing
The processes used to transfer a call from one individual, function, organization, or location to another, either by a support center employee or automatically, based on a set of predefined rules.

Call Routing Tables
Predefined tables within an ACD or call management system that determine where to route calls, based on source, content, problem type, or other relevant criteria.

Call Screener/Dispatch
This position collects information from the customer, including contact information and details about the incident or service request, then routes the ticket to level 1 support or another appropriate contact. Call screeners/dispatchers differ from level 1 support in that they are not expected to resolve problems or answer questions.

Call Screening
The process of collecting information from the caller, including name, phone number, location, and specific request for service, then routing the call to first-level support. See Dispatch and First-level Support.

Call Sequencer
A system designed to route an inbound call through a predefined series of analysts’ phone extensions until either the call is answered or the call runs through the entire sequence; the call sequencer then typically directs the call to an answering system.

Call Type
A category used to distinguish incoming requests to a service desk. Some common call types are incident, service request, and complaint.

Call Volume
The total number of inbound and outbound calls within some meaningful period or category.

Calls in Progress
The total number of calls to a route or service that is currently online, in queue, or being handled at the peripheral device.

Calls in Queue
A real-time report that refers to the number of calls received by the ACD system but not yet connected to an analyst.

Calls per Agent
The average number of calls received by an analyst within some meaningful period or category.

Calls per Period
Call volume per period. Typical periods service desks or support centers report on include hour, shift, day, week, month, quarter, and year.

A return call from the service desk or support center to the customer in response to the customer’s service request or as the result of a web “call me” request.

Caller Tolerance
There are seven factors that influence caller behavior or tolerance, “influence everything from how long callers will wait in queue to how many will abandon, how many will retry when they get busy signals, and how they will react to automation, such as voice response unit (VRU).

Capability Maturity Model (CMM)
The CMM for software (also known as the CMM and SW-CMM) is a model used to identify best practices that help increase process maturity. The CMM was developed at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) of Carnegie-Mellon University. In 2000, the SW-CMM was upgraded to CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration). The SEI no longer maintains the SW-CMM model, its associated appraisal methods, or training material.

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)
Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a process improvement approach developed by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) of Carnegie-Mellon University. CMMI provides organizations with the essential elements of effective processes. It can be a guide to process improvement across a project, a division, or an entire organization. CMMI helps integrate traditionally separate organizational functions, set process improvement goals and priorities, provide guidance for quality processes, and provide a point of reference for appraising current processes.

Capacity Management
The process responsible for ensuring that the capacity of IT services and the IT infrastructure is able to deliver on agreed-upon service level targets in a cost effective and timely manner. Capacity management considers all of the resources required to deliver the IT service and plans for short, medium, and long-term business requirements.

Capital Costs
Costs that increase the value of assets and are depreciated (or the value is reduced) over the life of the asset.

Career Pathing
A career-planning process through which the support center manager works with individual analysts to identify the next steps for their careers and provides the training and development support for the analysts to progress along their particular paths.

A notation created in the case management system or software that records the customer’s problem or service request. Each case is typically assigned a number; cases may be created from phone calls, e-mail, or web-based transactions.

Case-based Reasoning
A type of expert system based on solving problems or providing information using cases; the system matches similar past events and selects relevant experiences to provide successful solutions. This type of expert system is best applied to environments where a typical problem is narrow, but deep. The ability to go directly to a solution or a question deep in a diagnostic is a key advantage of case-based reasoning, since a problem that is deep in scope involves a larger number of questions. However, due to the large number of cases that must be entered to increase the breadth of the domain, case-based reasoning is most appropriate for problems with a narrow and fairly static domain. See Case and Expert System.

Categorization (Knowledge Management)
A hierarchy built for managing access to particular solutions or knowledge articles, popular with case management systems in the service desk and call center space. An alternative method to keyword searches for categorizing knowledge articles/solutions. Based on a three- or four-tier hierarchal structure to group knowledge articles and solutions.

Categorization (Support Center Cases)
The most common categorization scheme, STEM (subject, type, element, and module), is a four-tier classification system that categorizes information from the general to the specific. For example, subject = hardware, type = desktop, element = Dell Optiplex, and module = optical disk drive.

Cause-and-Effect Diagram
A tool developed by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa to assist in root cause identification; also called an Ishikawa diagram or a fishbone diagram.

Central Office (CO)
The name given to the local telephone company’s servicing exchange or office, usually where the big switches are located.

A support center that serves multiple locations and is located at a single physical location. See Distributed Support Model and Decentralized.

A telephone system usually supplied by the local telephone company. The switching equipment is located in the telephone company central office; the only equipment at the customer premises is the telephones. One of the attractions of the Centrex system is that it is rented not owned.

Any action resulting in a new status or value in baseline or configuration data.

Change Advisory Board (CAB)
The designated group responsible for the assessment and planning of all changes that will have an impact on business operations. The board is responsible for the assessment and planning of all changes that have a more than minor impact. All persons involved and all interested parties are represented on the CAB so that the entire course of events surrounding the change can be assessed and planned.

Change Management
(1) The process responsible for controlling the lifecycle of all changes. The primary objective of change management is to enable beneficial change with minimum disruption to IT services. A defined change management process minimizes interference and irregularity in customer service levels related to the implementation of alterations in business facilities, equipment, or processes. (2) Change management is the process of developing a planned approach to change in an organization that facilitates the adoption of changes in the business and/or employee environment.

The business practice by which a company cost center, such as the service desk or support center, charges its customer departments for the services it provides. These charges may be fixed allocations, fixed fees based on the support service provided, or charges based on length of calls or use. See Customer.

Chief Information Officer (CIO)
The typical title of the highest-ranking executive responsible for an organization’s information systems.

C-Level Officer or CXO
The generic title applied to executives with Chief in their titles, such as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Information Officer, Chief Financial Officer, etc.

Expressing the value of items by placing them in a certain order based on category, impact, and urgency. Classification can be used to support decisions concerning priorities.

A computing paradigm that distributes the workload between personal computers and larger computers on the network. Process-intensive tasks stay on the server, which lowers network traffic congestion. This configuration takes advantage of more advanced, high-speed equipment and technology and frees up the client portion for other tasks.

The final status in the lifecycle of an incident, problem, change, etc. When the status is closed, no further action is taken.
Closed Call
A call is closed when the work has been completed, follow-up calls have been made to the customer, the case has been recorded in the case management system, and the work has been completed to the customer’s satisfaction.

Closed Contact
The same as a closed call, but the origin of the customer’s contact with the service desk or support center was through a contact channel other than the telephone line.

(1) The act of changing the status of an incident, problem change, etc., to closed. (2) Closure is typically the final step in the call management process. It usually requires verifying that the solution provided is acceptable to the customer, updating the service request record in the problem management system, recording details of the solution, and closing the problem record.

Closure Code

A category that is assigned to an incident or problem before it is closed. The code identifies the cause and is intended for use in reporting and trend analysis; for example, “customer training required,” “documentation error,” “software bug,” etc.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), there are four types of cloud:

Community Cloud
The cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations). It may be managed by either the organization or a third party and may exist on or off premises.

Hybrid Cloud
The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds).

Private Cloud
The cloud infrastructure is operated solely for an organization; it may be managed by either the organization or a third party and may exist on or off premises.

Public Cloud
The cloud infrastructure is made available to the general public or a large industry group and is owned by an organization that sells cloud services.

A collaborative leadership activity designed to encourage growth and development, sometimes addressing employee performance issues.

Code of Practice (COP)
A guideline that describes recommended best practices and is published by a public body or a standards organization, such as ISO or BSI. Many standards consist of a code of practice and a specification.

Collateral Duties
Nonphone tasks that are flexible and can be scheduled for slow call load periods.

Commercial, Off-the-Shelf (COTS)
Describes software that is not custom-developed.

Conforming to a rule, such as a specification, policy, standard or law. Regulatory compliance describes the goal that corporations or public agencies aspire to in their efforts to ensure that personnel are aware of and take steps to comply with relevant laws and regulations. Compliance concerns relevant to the support center may include HIPAA, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information; SOX, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002; and PCI DSS, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, which establishes standards for the handling and storage of credit card data.

Component Failure Impact Analysis (CFIA)
A technique that helps to identify the impact of CI failure on IT services. A matrix is created with IT services on one edge and CIs on the other. This enables the identification of critical CIs that could cause the failure of multiple IT services and of fragile IT services that have multiple single points of failure.

Computer Telephony
Software and hardware for facilitating incident handling with telephone utilization techniques.

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
Interfacing IT and telecommunications equipment within the same network architecture to facilitate efficient processing of customer contacts and optimize the use of customer support resources through the sharing of data between systems. For example, CTI typically allows a support center manager’s console to display real-time metrics, such as the number of calls in queue and service request escalations.

Concurrent Users
The number of customers able to access a piece of software concurrently (i.e., at the same time). Determining the maximum number of expected concurrent users allows a company to purchase enough software licenses to cover the “peak” number of users, rather than one license for every employee.

Conditional Routing

The capability of the ACD to route calls based on current conditions. It is based on “if-then” programming statements, such as “if the number of calls in agent Group One exceeds ten and there are at least two available agents in Group Two, then route the calls to Group Two.”

Configuration Item (CI)
A component that is part of an IT infrastructure and needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT service. CIs may vary widely in complexity, size, and type, from an entire system (including all hardware, software, and documentation) to a single software module or a minor hardware component.

CI Level
The lowest level at which identifiable items can still be uniquely distinguished.

Configuration Management
The process that brings all components of the IT infrastructure and the related documentation under control to support the other service management processes and provide, at reasonable costs, qualitative services in the context of continuously changing user demands.

Configuration Management Database (CMDB)

A database that provides a logical model of the IT infrastructure or a service by identifying, controlling, maintaining, and verifying the versions of CIs in existence; it contains details about the attributes and history of each CI and the important relationships between them.

Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT)
COBIT provides guidance and best practice for the management of IT processes. It is published by the IT Governance Institute.

Controlled Busies
The capability of the ACD to generate busy signals when the call queue backs up beyond a programmable threshold.

Typically refers to a vendor, trainer, or other person external to the company contracted to help improve service desk or support center operations. Some service desks use this term to refer to their more senior internal support center analysts.

Any interaction or communication between a customer and a representative of a support center or service desk.

Contact Center
A term increasingly being applied to multimedia-enabled call centers, which are evolved call centers that integrate the Internet into their operations by expanding the number of contact channels available to customers. Contact centers use IRC (chat), e-mail, remote control tools, and web self-service in addition to the telephone as support tools.

Contact Channel
Any communication method by which a customer contacts a support center or service desk besides the telephone. Contacts can be e-mails, chat sessions, “snail mail,” web self-service, or walk-ups. As with a telephone call, each contact channel has costs associated with its operation, strengths, and weaknesses as a vehicle for communicating with customers.

Contact History

An audit trail of how a contact or a call was processed and resolved.

Contact Routing

A strategy by which each incoming contact is individually processed to determine the optimum destination. The decision for each contact can be based on real-time information and historical data about the state of each support center. In contrast, simple allocation routing statistically distributes contacts among a support center, based on simple historical patterns.

Continual Service Improvement (CSI)
The performance of the IT service provider is continually measured and improvements are made to processes, IT services, and IT infrastructure to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and cost effectiveness.

Continuous Process Improvement (CPI)

The systematic process of reviewing and improving business or organizational processes.

Cost Center
An accounting term that refers to a department or function in the organization that does not generate a profit.

Cost of Delay
The money paid to queue callers, assuming you have toll-free service.

Cost per Agent

The total cost of a support center’s operations divided by the average number of analysts on staff during the period the cost is measured in.

Cost per Call
In a given period, the total cost of a support center’s operations (including staff, equipment, and other associated costs, such as outsourcing) divided by the total number of calls received.

Cost per Contact

In a given period, the total cost of a contact made using any of the following contact channels: e-mail, chat, web self-service, walk-up, and walk-to.

Cost per Minute
In a given period, the total cost of a support center’s operations divided by the total minutes of analyst talk time.


A synonym for control. The term countermeasure can be used to refer to any type of control, but it is most often used when referring to measures that increase the resilience, fault tolerance, or reliability of an IT service.


A support organization’s normal hours of operation.

The British government’s Central Communications and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) was the original author of ITIL. This organization no longer exists and its functions are now carried out by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). CCTA Risk Analysis and Management Method (CRAMM) is a methodology and tool for analyzing and managing risks. CRAMM was developed by CCTA, but is now privately owned.

Critical Success Factor (CSF)

A key area where satisfactory performance is required for the organization to achieve its goals. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to measure the achievement of each CSF. For example, a CSF of “protect IT services when making changes” could be measured by KPIs such as the percent reduction of unsuccessful changes, the percent reduction in changes causing incidents, etc.

Cross Training
Training service desk or support center agents in a variety of specialized areas or tasks to balance workloads, develop staff members as support specialists, facilitate career pathing, and increase the shared knowledge at the service desk.

A set of values that is shared by a group of people, including ideas, beliefs, and practices. Organizational culture is the set of values and norms shared by people within an organization. It is often considered to be the largest barrier to organizational change and a challenge to change management.

(1) Any person who comes into contact with a service desk or support center employee in person, over the phone, via e-mail, or by other communication channels. Customers may be internal (employees of the company) or external (people outside the company who request information or help). Also referred to as clients. (2) A person authorized to make decisions on behalf of an organizational unit within the business concerning an IT service and its associated service levels; someone who buys goods or services; a person who pays for IT services; or someone who negotiates a service level agreement (SLA).

Customer Interface
The tools and techniques the customer and service desk or support center use to communicate, such as the telephone, e-mail, fax, direct access, chat, social media, or the call management system.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
(1) A philosophy, an attitude, and a set of policies and procedures that are customer- centric and shared throughout the organization to provide a consistently positive experience for the customer and promote a long-lasting business relationship. (2) A software application built to record and manage all data pertaining to customers, including contact information, account information, and transaction data. CRM systems are sometimes used as service desk software.

Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI)
HDI’s Customer Satisfaction Index Service was developed specifically for the IT service and technical support industry by a fifty-person team of IT practitioners and customer satisfaction professionals who measure customer satisfaction on a daily basis.

Customer Satisfaction Survey
The process of having customers answer questions that allow the service desk or support center to determine its customers’ level of satisfaction with the services they receive. Customer satisfaction surveys are typically presented in written format but are sometimes are conducted over the phone. See Customer Service Representative or Agent.

Customer Service Representative

The customer support professionals who receive and handle customer inquiries, most often for nontechnical issues. They are expected to provide answers to common questions, perform routine procedures to resolve a high percentage of inquiries, and route more- complex issues to a higher level of support.

Customer Service Skills
A set of skills for interacting with customers, solving problems, and handling difficult customers. This skill set includes face-to-face, telephone, and writing skills.

Dashboard Data/Dashboard
Refers to data that is summarized in a brief, often graphical, format for review by senior managers. This data typically contains less than a dozen metrics and is designed for managers that wish to monitor metrics without reviewing pages of data.

A collection of stored data that is structured to allow queries and reporting. Typical data structures are either flat or relational.

Database Administrator (DBA)
The person responsible for the design, development, operation, security, maintenance, and use of a database. The DBA defines the rules by which data are accessed and stored.

Database Call Handling
A CTI application, whereby the ACD works in sync with the database computer to process calls, based on information in the database.

A physically disbursed support organization in which the customer determines the appropriate location and phone number to call for service, depending on technology, problem type or information needed, or other criteria. See Centralized and Distributed.

Decision Tree
A type of expert system comprised of a branching structure of questions and possible responses designed to lead an analyst to an appropriate solution to a customer’s problem or provide needed information. Decision-tree structures resemble an organizational hierarchy. Decision trees are most appropriate where the problem type is broad and shallow. Decision-tree systems work well for entry-level analysts, because they walk the analysts through specific questions and answers. However, senior analysts may not want to step through each branch, since they usually know some of the questions and answers; they may feel that working through the tree process actually slows them down. See Branch and Expert System.


One or few support partners that are assigned exclusively to supporting a given product or task.

Definitive Hardware Store (DHS)
Contains spares and stocks of hardware. One or more physical locations where hardware configuration items (CIs) are securely stored when not in use. All hardware in the DHS is under the control of change and release management and is recorded in the CMDB. The DHS contains spare parts, maintained at suitable revision levels, and may include hardware that is part of a future release.

Definitive Software Library (DSL)

One or more locations in which the definitive and approved versions of all software CIs are securely stored. The DSL may also contain associated CIs, such as licenses and documentation. The DSL is a single logical storage area, even if there are multiple locations. All software in the DSL is under the control of change and release management and is recorded in the CMDB. Only software from the DSL is acceptable for use in a release.

Also known as queue time, delay is the time a caller spends in queue waiting for an analyst to become available.

Delay Announcements
Recorded announcements that encourage callers to wait for an analyst to become available, remind them to have their account number ready, and provide information on access alternatives. In some systems, delay announcements are provided through recorded announcement routes (RAN).

Delay Before Abandoning Rate

Statistics representing the service desk or support center’s abandoned calls and how long customers hold before they abandon. Reports showing this rate indicate customers’ tolerance level for waiting to connect with a support analyst.

Delay in Queue
The total length of time calls spend in the queue, waiting for routing or service. Delay in queue can also take into consideration abandoned calls.

Delay Time

The time spent processing a contact after it arrives at a peripheral (ACD, IVR) but before it is either queued or presented to a support center analyst.

Delayed Call

A call that cannot be answered immediately and is placed in queue.

Something that must be provided to meet a commitment in a service level agreement (SLA) or a contract. Deliverable is also informally to mean a planned output of any process.

Deming Cycle
The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle of continuous improvement, named for W. Edwards Deming.

The software applications, computer hardware, and peripherals that reside at or on the customer’s desk.

Desktop Management Interface (DMI)
A proposed industry standard that gives computer products a unique code that facilitates the management of desktop computers, hardware and software components, and peripherals, whether they are standalone systems or linked into networks. The DMI is being developed by the Desktop Management Task Force. See Desktop Management Task Force.

Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF)
A multivendor cooperative effort of about 300 companies, led by Intel Corp., that is developing the Desktop Management Interface. See Desktop Management Interface.

Desktop Support
This function is primarily responsible for responding to tickets (incidents, questions, and service requests) from end users that relate to IT hardware, software, and applications used directly by the end users. This function is also responsible for the management of assets assigned to end users and projects related to the deployment, movement, additions, or changes (DMAC) to these assets. These issues may be resolved remotely, at the user’s location, or via equipment returns.

Desktop Support Manager
Manages a team of desktop support technicians and/or supervisors while executing the operational and tactical plans of desktop support and satisfying customer and business needs. Responsibilities may include performance management, monitoring/reporting metrics, audits, purchase approvals, and other similar job functions.

Desktop Support Technician (DST)
An IT support professional who responds to incidents escalated from or assigned by the service desk that are related to customer equipment; additional skills, knowledge, tools, or authority are required. DSTs may resolve incidents remotely, at the deskside, or via equipment returns.

Desktop Support Team Lead
An advanced DST who, in addition to DST responsibilities, provides training, mentoring, and/or coaching for a team of DSTs, but does not have direct staff management responsibilities. May have oversight responsibility for processes, project management tasks, and/or providing support to management.

An emerging set of principles, methods, and practices for communication, collaboration, and integration between software development (application/software engineering) and IT operations (systems administration/infrastructure) professionals.

Determining the cause of a problem or type of information needed and the actions that must be taken to resolve it.

Diagnostic Aides
Diagnostic tools such as error log interpreters, crash analyzers, or network monitors that assist the support center analyst in rapidly isolating the cause of a caller’s problem.

Diagnostic Script
A structured set of questions used by service desk staff to ensure they ask the correct questions and to help them classify, resolve, and assign incidents. Diagnostic scripts may also be made available to users to help them diagnose and resolve their own incidents

Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS)

A telephone service that automatically identifies the telephone number the customer called. The number can then be displayed at the receiving station or transferred to an associated computer system, such as a problem management system, or to an ACD for routing.


The use of binary code—1s and 0s—to represent information; digital is the dominant format and more efficient than analog.

Direct Costs
Costs that can be attributed to a specific service, business unit, or process.

Direct Software Library (DSL)

A secure software library where all versions of software CIs that have been accepted from the developer or supplier are held in their definitive, quality-controlled form. By necessity, this logical library may have to occupy one or more physical locations.

Direct Time

The time an analyst spends on or off the phone that is directly related to resolving customers’ service requests.

Director of Desktop Support

The responsibilities of this role are broader than an individual desktop support team. Managers of desktop support teams report to this person. This position may also be referred to as a senior manager.

Disaster Recovery Planning

The plans, procedures, and contingencies that enable your company or support organization to set up, reconfigure, and continue to work after a disaster or during a work disruption, such as a power outage.


(1) Assigning a ticket to a technician for deskside support. (2) Passing an incident to a more appropriate resource without any diagnosis or troubleshooting.

Dispatch Support Model
A call management function in which service desk or support center analysts determine whether the caller is entitled to service, determine the nature of the problem or type of information needed, log the call, and route the caller to the first-level support function. This function is frequently automated using an ACD system. See Call Screening and First-level Support.

Distributed Support Model

A service desk or support center comprised of multiple physical sites; the customer uses a single phone number for all contacts and problems and call routing is accomplished behind the scenes. This is sometimes called a virtual or logical location. From the customer’s point of view, there is one location; in reality, analysts are located in multiple physical locations. See Centralized and Decentralized.


The time when a CI or IT service is not available during its agreed-upon service time. The availability of an IT service is often calculated from downtime.

Dynamic Answer

An ACD feature that automatically reconfigures the number of rings before the system answers calls, based on real-time queue information. Since costs don’t begin until the ACD answers calls, this feature can save callers or the call center money when long- distance charges apply.

A measure of whether the right amount of resources have been used to deliver a process, service, or activity. An effective process achieves its objectives with the minimum amount of time, money, people, or other resources.


A measure of whether the right amount of resources have been used to deliver a process, service, or activity and achieve its agreed-upon objectives.

Electronic Display Board

An LED or LCD display, usually placed strategically in the customer support area as well as customer areas, used to notify personnel of problems or the current status of systems. See Reader Board.

Electronic Software Distribution (ESD)
The capability of remotely uploading software programs or upgrades to customers’ workstations. This technology saves service desk or support center staff members from leaving their stations and making trips to the field. See Automatic Software Distribution.


The third level of the four-tier hierarchy of classifying solutions in the case management system. The element category is used to offer additional information on the subject and type. On this level, specific versions of software and models of hardware will be defined.

End-User Computing (EUC)

Managing computing resources that have been distributed to the customer rather than provided from a centralized computing facility.


An entire company or agency, possibly spanning many support centers.


All locations, departments, workgroups, and people within the company or organization. In short, an enterprise-wide outage would affect everyone in the company.

Envelope Strategy

A strategy whereby enough analysts are scheduled for the day or week to handle both the inbound call load and other types of work. Priorities are based on the inbound call load. When the call load is heavy, all analysts handle calls, but when it is light, some anal activities.


(1) The physical area where the service desk or support center is located. This includes the physical arrangements of personnel and workstations, lighting, noise, and room temperature. (2) The particular combination of software and/or being used (e.g., the Windows environment).


Applying the most efficient arrangement of a desk, chair, monitor, telephone, headset, and other equipment to reduce or eliminate physical strain and cumulative trauma.

Erlang, A.K.

A Danish engineer who worked for the Copenhagen Telephone Company in the early 1900s and developed Erlang B, Erlang C, and other telephone traffic engineering formulas.

One hour of telephone traffic in an hour of time. For example, if circuits carry 120 minutes of traffic in an hour, that is two Erlangs.

Erlang B

A formula developed by A.K. Erlang, widely used to determine the number of trunks required to handle a known call load during a one- hour period. The formula assumes that if callers get busy signals, they go away forever, never to retry (lost calls cleared). Since some callers retry, Erlang B can underestimate trunks required. However, Erlang B is generally accurate in situations with few busy signals.

Erlang C

A method of calculating predicated waiting times (delay) based on three things: the number of analysts; the number of people waiting to be served (callers); and the average amount of time it takes to serve each person. It can also predict the resources required to keep waiting times within targeted limits. Erlang C assumes no lost calls or busy signals, so it has a tendency to overestimate staff required.


A design flaw or malfunction that causes a failure of one or more CIs or IT services. A mistake made by a person or a faulty process that impacts a CI or IT service is also an error.

Error Control

The processes involved in tracking known errors until they are eliminated by the successful implementation of a change.


A defined management process by which a service request’s priority is changed due to the impact or timing of the request, customer input, or duration. Escalation is a management process for giving a call more priority, urgency, or resources.

Event Survey

A survey conducted to evaluate your customers’ satisfaction with the resolution of a specific type of incident or any other ad hoc reason.

Exception Report

A document containing details of one or more KPIs or other important targets that have exceeded defined thresholds. Some examples include SLA targets that have been missed or are about to be missed and performance metrics that indicate a potential capacity problem.

What the customer, service desk or support center employee, management, or other party expects to happen in any given situation.

Expert System

A type of knowledge-based system that processes information in an area of expertise and performs functions in a manner similar to a human who is an expert in that field. An expert system can solve problems by drawing inferences from a collection of information that is based on human experience and problems the system has previously encountered. Expert systems diagnose the problem and then advise the customer on how to correct the problem. Most expert systems fall into three categories: case- based systems, decision trees, and rules-based systems. See Case-based Reasoning and Decision Tree.

Explicit Knowledge

Knowledge that is easily conveyed to others.

Loss of ability to operate to specifications or to deliver the required output. The term failure may be used when referring to IT services, processes, activities, CIs, etc. A failure often causes an incident.

Fast Clear Down

Callers who hang up immediately when they hear a delay announcement.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Part of the Internet protocol suite used to transfer files from host to host.

Financial Management

Oversight of the finances of an IT department or other organization.

First Call Resolution Rate (also FCR or FCRR)

The percentage of calls that do not require any further telephone calls to address the customer’s reason for calling. The customer does not need to speak with the service desk or support center again to seek resolution, nor does anyone within the organization need to follow-up. Also referred to as a “one-and-done” call, when the individual who takes the initial report is the same person who resolves the incident, problem, request, or question to the customer’s satisfaction.

First Contact Resolution Rate (also FCon or FconR)
The percentage at which a single contact (whether by e-mail, chat, web “call through,” web “call me,” snail mail, walk-up, or walk-to) is resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. Calculating first contact resolution requires that each contact channel have a clear definition of what constitutes a transaction between the support analyst and the customer.

First In, First Out (FIFO)

A queuing technique that ensures that the next item or person to be handled is the one that/who has waited the longest. This is the technique used by most service desks and support centers. It is typically automated using ACDs.

First-level Support (also Level 1 or Tier 1)

Typically, the first group of analysts to attempt to provide customers with needed information or to resolve their problems. First-level support groups are generally staffed by technical generalists who are expected to resolve a high percentage of common problems. See Call Screening, Dispatch, Second-level Support, Third-level Support.

First-line Support

The first level in the hierarchy of support groups involved in incident resolution. Each level contains more specialist skills or has more time/resources.

First-time Fix Rate

A metric that measures the percentage of incidents resolved by first-line support without delay or escalation. Other definitions of this metric are possible; for example, some IT service providers define it as the percentage of incidents that are resolved during the first contact.

Fixed Costs

Costs that do not change over time and are not based on usage or other similar factors, such as taxes or rent.

Flushing out the Queue

Changing system thresholds so that calls waiting for an agent group are redirected to another group with a shorter queue or more available analysts.

Follow-up Contact

The process by which a service desk or support center employee verifies that the customer’s problem or situation has been solved to the customer’s satisfaction.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A commonly asked question or problem with a well-documented solution that can be easily automated through a self-service portal or pushed electronically to customers to support call reduction or deflection. FAQs are the cornerstone of any self-service capability.

FAQ Rotation

The act of rotating or retiring FAQs from a web portal. FAQs should rotate completely every six months to keep the data fresh and to accurately reflect the most commonly asked questions posed to a service desk or support center.

Front End

In a computer network, this specialized preprocessor relieves a host computer of a task such as line control, message handling, code conversion, or error control. Front end could also refer to a specific system that is placed in front of another system, such as a voice-prompting unit in front of a PBX/ACD unit.

Full Release

A release that replaces all components of a release unit, regardless of whether or not they have changed since the last software version was released.

Full-time Equivalent (FTE)

An accumulation of work time that adds up to a full-time position. For example, two half-time positions equal one full-time equivalent, and twenty hours per week equals half of a full-time equivalent.


An intended purpose of a CI, person, team, process, or IT service. For example, one function of an e-mail service may be to store and forward outgoing e-mails, one function of a business process may be to dispatch goods to customers. The term function also has two other meanings: (1) perform the intended purpose correctly (e.g., the computer is functioning), and (2) a team or group of people, (e.g., the change management function).

Gap Analysis
A comparison of a support center’s actual performance against its potential or past performance.


An analyst with broad knowledge of a range of technologies or subject areas. Many first- level support analysts are generalists. See Specialist.

Generally a reference to a system or process that operates across international borders on a 7×24 basis.


The long-term, strategic accomplishment(s) that a business or organization sets out to achieve; quantified and measurable objectives. Goals are frequently confused with objectives, but they are not interchangeable with each other. See Objective.

Grade of Service

The probability that a call will not be connected to a system because all trunks are busy. Grade of service is often expressed as “p.01,” meaning that one percent of calls will be “blocked.” Grade of service is sometimes used interchangeably with service level, but the two terms have different meanings. See Service Level.


The extent of separate components in a system—the more components (the higher the granularity) the easier it is to perform repairs by swapping out faulty modules.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Allows the computer user to interact graphically with the computer’s operating system rather than by typing commands. Microsoft Windows and Macintosh are common GUIs.

Handle Time
The time an analyst spends in talk time and after-call work, handling a transaction. Handle time can also refer to the time it takes for a machine to process a transaction.

Handled Calls

The number of calls received and handled by analysts or peripheral equipment. Handled calls do not include calls that abandon or receive busy signals.


The receiver on a standard desktop telephone set.

The formal process of one support level or function transferring a service request to another support level to ensure the request remains assigned until resolved. Also known as a warm transfer.


Telephone speaker and receiver equipment comprised of lightweight microphones worn directly over the ear of the telephone analyst. Headsets free both hands for other tasks and reduce neck strain.

Help Screen

A display screen that provides contextual assistance and brief descriptions of how to use specific application software functions such as icons, pull-down menus, and function keys.

Hierarchical Structures

Dividing information, such as a branch on a decision tree, into parent and children components.

Historical Reports

Reports that track call center and analyst performance over a period of time. Historical reports are generated by ACDs, third-party ACD software packages, and software such as Seagate Crystal Reports. The amount of history that a system can store varies by system.

Hold Time

The amount of time the support analyst had customers on hold during a given interval.


The term typically used in the UNIX world to describe a computer that provides processing services to clients.

Hot Spares

Extra hardware, compatible with and configured like most client hardware, that can be used to replace malfunctioning hardware with minimal downtime.

Hunt Group

A series of telephone lines organized in such a way that if the first line is busy, the next line is hunted and so on until a free line is found. For example, Line 1-555-1000 is first in the hunt group, Line 2-555-1001 is second, Line 3-555-1002 is third, and so on.

A method of storing text information, so the customer can quickly access any portion of the text via links between related sections of a document.

Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML)

A high-level language used to create the look and feel of the content found on web pages.

A measure of the effect of an incident, problem, or change on business processes. Impact is often based on how service levels will be affected. Impact and urgency are used to assign priority.

Impact Analysis

A quantitative research method in which a study is conducted into the effects that an error may have on the other parts of the configuration and the subsequent consequences for the service level, taking into account the risks of such an error occurring, as well as the severity of the error.

Impact Code

A category used to represent impact (e.g., major, minor, and catastrophic).

Inbound Call

A call received at the service desk or support center. Inbound call volume includes abandoned calls.


An event that is not part of the standard operation of a service and that causes, or may cause, an interruption to or a reduction in the quality of that service.


Another name for the not-ready state.

Incident Control
The management of the entire course to be followed in finding solutions for all the incidents that occur.

Incident Management

A process that aims to resolve incidents and minimize the adverse impact of incidents and problems on the business that are caused by errors within the IT infrastructure and to prevent the recurrence of incidents related to those errors.

Incident Record

A record containing the details of an incident. Each incident record documents the lifecycle of a single incident.

Incident Tracking

Software that is used specifically to enter and manage support incident information.

Incident-based Survey (Transactional)

A survey conducted to evaluate your customers’ satisfaction because of an issue with specific type of incident or any other ad hoc reason.

Incoming Call Center Management

The art and science of having the correct number of skilled people and supporting resources in place at the right times to handle an accurately forecasted workload.

Index Factor (Forecasting)

A proportion used as a multiplier to adjust another number.

Indirect Costs

Costs that cannot be easily or fairly attributed to the cost of a specific service or business process.

Industry Standard

Generally accepted requirements followed by the members of an industry, often codified in a voluntary, industry-developed document that establishes requirements for products, practices, or operations.


Assistance to service desk by support partners that is subject to resource availability in the moment.

Information Services (IS)
The functional organization responsible for developing, maintaining, and operating an organization’s information resources, including databases and information technology.

Information Technology (IT)

The use of technology for the storage, communication, or processing of information. This technology typically includes computers, telecommunications, applications, and software, and may include business data, voice, images, video, etc. Information technology is often used to support business processes through IT services.

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

According to the OGC, “ITIL is the most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world. ITIL provides a cohesive set of best practice, drawn from the public and private sectors internationally.” ITIL provides one framework for achieving IT service management. It is a repository of best practices for delivering and supporting IT services.

Information Technology Service

A service provided to one or more customers by an IT service provider. An IT service is based on the use of information technology and supports the customer’s business processes. It is made up of a combination of people, processes, and technology and should be defined in an SLA.

Information Technology Service Management (ITSM)

A broader, more inclusive term than ITIL.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

The capability to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, deployed applications, and possibly limited control of select networking components (e.g., host firewalls).


A type of call in which the customer requires specific information rather than the solution to a technical problem.


An approach to the service delivery strategy that relies on utilizing internal organizational resources in the design, development, transition, maintenance operations, and/or support of new, changed, or revised services or data center operations.

To arrange independent processes, technologies, or functions in such a way that they perform as a single entity.


Programs or systems that alternately accept input and then respond, such as IVR systems.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

A computer-based technology that allows callers to choose how their call will be routed based on their responses to a voice prompt.

Intercept Message

A message placed at the front of the ACD to announce the status of a major outage or other event. See Announcement.


Interflow happens when calls flow out of the ACD to another site.

Internal Customer

An employee of the same organization as the service desk or support center who places a service request with the support center.

International Standards Organization (ISO)6

The international organization that develops standards and is best known for developing OSI, the Open Systems Interconnection reference model.

ISO/IEC 9000

A generic term that refers to a number of international standards and guidelines for quality management systems.

ISO/IEC 9001

An international standard for quality management systems.

ISO/IEC 17799 (ITIL Security Management)

Code of practice for information security management based on BS7799 Part 1.

ISO/IEC 20000

Specification and code of practice for IT service management; ISO/IEC 20000 is aligned with ITIL best practices and supersedes BS15000.

ISO/IEC 27001

Specification for information security management; the corresponding code of practice is ISO/IEC BS7799, Part 2.

A connection of networks and gateways that has become the largest data communications network in the world. Originally a US military initiative to interconnect graphically dispersed military bases, the Internet now connects a myriad of college and university campuses around the world as well as thousands of companies and individuals.

Internet “Call Me” Contact

A contact that allows a user to request a callback from the call center, while exploring a web page. This capability requires an interconnection of the ACD system and the Internet by means of an Internet gateway and the staff to provide service when it is required. This capability requires very precise forecasting and call usage data to be worthwhile and effective.

Internet “Call Through” Contact

The ability for callers to click a button on a web site and be connected directly to an analyst while viewing the site. The standards and technologies that provide this capability are in development.

Internet Protocol (IP)

The protocol responsible for ensuring that packets are sent to the right destination. Part of the TCP/IP family of protocols describing software that tracks the Internet addresses of nodes, routes outgoing messages, and recognizes incoming messages. Used in gateways to connect networks and OSI networks at level 3 and above.


Intraflow happens when calls flow between agent groups


Initiation of the steps defined in a plan; for example, initiating the IT service continuity plan for one or more IT services.


Worldwide association of IS/IT professionals dedicated to the audit, control, and security of information systems. Offers CISA qualification and COBIT standards.


A point or matter of discussion, debate, or dispute; used interchangeably with problem.

IT Infrastructure

The sum of an organization’s IT-related hardware, software, data communication facilities, procedures, documentation, and people.

IT Operations
The process responsible for the day-to-day monitoring and management of one or more IT services and the IT infrastructure they depend on. The term is also used to refer to the group or department within an IT service provider that is responsible for IT operations.

IT Service

A described set of facilities, IT and non-IT, supported by the IT service provider, that fulfills one or more of the customer’s needs, that supports the customer’s business objectives, and that the customer perceives as a coherent whole.

IT Service Continuity Management (ITSCM)

The process responsible for managing risks that could seriously affect IT services. ITSCM ensures that the IT service provider can always provide the minimum agreed-upon service levels, by reducing the risk to an acceptable level and planning for the recovery of IT services. ITSCM should be designed to support business continuity management.

IT Service Management (ITSM)

The implementation and management of IT services that meet the needs of the business. IT service management is performed by IT service providers through an appropriate mix of people, process, and technology.

IT Service Provider

The role of the IT service provider is performed by any organizational units, whether internal or external, that deliver and support IT services to customers.

Job Scheduler
A tool that enables the automatic execution of specific commands at given dates and times. A command may be scheduled to execute once, on several specific days, or regularly (e.g., on a weekly or monthly schedule).

Judgmental Forecasting

Forecasting that goes beyond purely statistical techniques and encompasses what people believe is going to happen. It is in the realm of intuition, interdepartmental committees, market research, and executive opinion.

Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the better.” Refers to the philosophy or practices that focus upon the continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, game development, and business management.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

Specifications for measuring performance in the support center that help an organization measure progress towards its goals. KPIs are a measure of strategic importance and differ depending on the nature of the organization.


A descriptive word or phrase associated with a particular document, data set, or information component that helps the customer retrieve information quickly.

Keyword Search

A technology that allows the customer to find indexed information quickly using keywords in logical combinations.


Information that has been refined, formatted, and verified so that it is ready for use by support center staff and customers.

Knowledge Article

A discreet request/solution or problem/solution document specific to a particular problem or request that is processed through the support center. A knowledge base is typically made up of many knowledge articles that have been categorized by problem or type.

Knowledge Asset

An organization’s information resources. The term implies that information and knowledge are valuable assets that require security and management.
Knowledge Base (KB)
A collection of an organization’s information and solutions that is designed to provide efficient reuse of that knowledge.

Knowledge Champion (KC)
The individual responsible for KCS solution monitoring and improvement. The knowledge champion looks after the health of the knowledge base, is usually focused on a collection or domain of content, and has both technical expertise in the domain and a profound understanding of KCS processes.

Knowledge Engineer (KE)

A person experienced in the branch of computer science that pertains to designing and developing knowledge base systems. Knowledge engineers gather the type and quality of information needed to ensure that these systems contain the information, experience, and solutions necessary for an effective system.

Knowledge Management

Process of managing some or all of an organization’s knowledge as a resource. Also known as the capture and reuse of business and technical information.

Knowledge Repository

An accumulation of data or history from and/or for support issues. Also known as a knowledge base.

Knowledge Retrieval

Software that provides the ability to make qualified retrievals from a knowledge repository.

Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS)

A methodology and a set of practices and processes that focuses on knowledge as a key asset of the support organization. KCS seeks to create content as a by-product of solving problems, evolve content-based on demand and usage, develop a knowledge base of collective experience to date, and reward learning, collaboration, sharing, and improving. KCS is not something that is done in addition to solving problems; KCS becomes the way problems are solved.

Known Error (KE)

An incident or problem for which the root cause is known and for which a temporary workaround or a permanent alternative has been identified. If a business case exists, a request for change (RFC) will be made, but, in any event, it remains a known error unless it is permanently fixed by a change.

Known Error Database

A database containing all known error records; this database is created by problem management and used by incident and problem management.

Lag Indicator
Any measure used to determine the outcome of an objective that indicates organizational or support department performance for a given period. These indicators are results- oriented and do not reflect a process.

Last In, First Out (LIFO)

A queuing technique in which the next item or person to be handled or retrieved is the item most recently placed in the queue. In warehouses, this works to ensure the most current stock is shipped first. However, it is not usually effective for handling queued calls in the service desk or support center. See First In, First Out and Electronic Display Board.

Law of Diminishing Returns

The declining and marginal improvements in service level that can be attributed to each additional analyst as successive analysts are added.

Lead Indicator

Measures that indicate progress against a process or behavior. These measures are useful in predicting the future outcome of an objective (e.g., hours spent with customers, average handle time, etc.).


Lean principles of continuous improvement and respect for people have been applied to call center services, healthcare, higher education, software development, and public and professional services. Conceptually, these implementations follow very similar patterns to those in manufacturing settings and often make use of the same tools and techniques.

Lean Six Sigma

Combines the speed and impact of Lean with the quality and variation control of Six Sigma.

Level 0 Support

Typically, level or tier 0 refers to self-service support offerings, such as FAQs and knowledge base systems.

Level 1 Support
The frontline technical support professionals who receive and handle tickets. These professionals are responsible for providing customers with information, restoring service, providing specific services, and escalating tickets to a higher level of support. They are typically technical generalists and are often referred to as support center analysts.

Level 2 Support

The technical support professionals who handle tickets that are escalated from level 1. These professionals require greater technical skills and/or access rights than level 1 support personnel. They are typically technical specialists and may be responsible for participating in root cause analysis of problems. (Note: This definition does not include desktop support technicians, who are defined separately.)

Level 3 Support

The technical support professionals who build, maintain, and/or enhance technical products and services. These professionals are typically engineer-level staff. They are involved when the ticket cannot be resolved by either level 1 or level 2, and when there is high business impact or urgency. Level 3 support is commonly either an internal engineering/development team or an external vendor.

Level of Service

The percentage of total calls answered within a specific time, such as “80 percent in one minute.” Also known as telephone service level, this is a commonly reported ACD statistic. Level of service is also used to define a service desk’s quantitative goals, such as an average speed of answer (ASA) goal of thirty seconds. See Service Level. License Management
The process responsible for the management of software licenses throughout their lifecycles.


The various stages in the life of a CI, incident, problem, change, etc. The lifecycle defines status categories and the status transitions that are permitted. For example, the lifecycle of an application includes design, build, test, deploy, operate, etc.; the lifecycle of an incident includes detect, respond, diagnose, repair, recover, and restore; and the lifecycle of a server may include ordered, received, in test, disposed, etc.


Refers to an IT service or CI that is being used to deliver service to a customer.

Load Balancing

Balancing traffic between two or more destinations

Local Area Network (LAN)
A group of computers on a common network within a limited physical area that share common network resources. For example, LAN customers can all use one printer or one set of applications instead of having an individual printer or application on each personal computer. A LAN is usually located on the customer’s premises and is not subject to external regulation.


Formally recording basic information related to the receipt of a new service request, usually in a computer-based problem management system.

Logged Call

A call that has been recorded using the support center’s incident/problem logging process.

Logged On

A state in which analysts have signed on to a telephone system (made their presence known) but may or may not be ready to receive calls.


The act of entering, or having entered, information into a database.

Long Call

For staffing calculations and traffic engineering purposes, calls that approach or exceed thirty minutes.

Longest Available Agent (LAA)

A method of distributing calls to the analyst who has been sitting idle the longest. With a queue, the LAA becomes the next available agent.

Longest Delay Time

The longest time any customer has been on hold. Also known as maximum hold time.

Look-ahead Queuing

The ability for a system or network to examine a secondary queue and evaluate the conditions before overflowing calls from the primary call queue.

Look-back Queuing

The ability for a system or network to look back to the primary queue after the call has been overflowed to a secondary queue and evaluate the conditions. If the congestion clears, the call can be sent back to the initial queue.

A large, centralized computer system; users are networked to the mainframe and their individual workstations consist of terminals without independent processing units or storage.

Maintenance Contract

A contract with a vendor to perform problem isolation and resolution within requested time frames. Cost is accessed and paid regardless of the number of service calls.

Major Incident

The highest category of impact and urgency for an incident; a major incident results in significant disruption to the business.


Short for malicious software. Consists of programming (code, scripts, active content, and other software) designed to disrupt or deny operation, gather information that leads to loss of privacy or exploitation, gain unauthorized access to system resources, and other abusive behavior. The expression is a general term used by computer professionals to mean a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code

Management Information Base (MIB)

A collection of objects accessed by a network management protocol.

Market Segmentation

The process of identifying each unique group, or type of customer and segmenting each group based on customer preference, rank, products, etc.

Maximum Hold Time

See Longest Delay Time.

Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)

A metric for measuring and reporting reliability. MTBF is the average time that a CI or IT service can perform its agreed-upon function without interruption. This is measured from when the CI or IT service starts working until it next fails.

Mean Time Between Service Incidents (MTBSI)

A metric used for measuring and reporting reliability; MTBSI is the mean time from when a system or IT service fails until it next fails, or the sum of MTBF and MTTR.

Mean Time to Repair (MTTR)
The average time taken to repair a CI or IT service after a failure. MTTR is measured from when the CI or IT service fails until it is repaired. MTTR does not include the time required to recover or restore. MTTR is sometimes incorrectly used in place of mean time to restore service.

Measured Time

The amount of work time dedicated to resolving a support issue.


An experienced support center agent who is assigned to guide and teach novice agents through a combination of knowledge and experience sharing.


A type of training in which experienced service desk or support center analysts guide and teach novice analysts.

Message Center

A type of call center that takes messages and routes calls but does not resolve problems or provide technical information.

Message on Hold (MOH)

A prerecorded message or announcement played for the benefit of callers waiting in an ACD hold queue. An MOH may provide queue status updates, technical information, or advertising messages.


A standard of measurement. Something that is measured and reported to manage a process, IT service, and activity.


Software that mediates between different types of hardware and software on a network so that they can function together.

Mission Statement

A formal, written summary that identifies an organization’s purpose and reason for being.

Mobile Device

Any small computing device, generally handheld. Includes smartphones and tablets, but may also include simpler PDAs and network-connected scanning devices.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)
Systems and/or software that secure, monitor, manage, and support the mobile devices deployed across an enterprise.


The representation of a physical system by a set of mathematical relationships that predict the system’s response to various alternative inputs.


The fourth level of the four-tier hierarchy of classifying solutions. The module is used on an as-needed basis to further define the software versions and hardware models defined in the Element.

Moment of Truth

Any product or service delivery incident that has the potential to alter the customer’s perception of the quality or value of the product or service provided. The term was coined by former Scandinavian Airlines CEO Jan Carlzon who believed that the first fifteen seconds of an encounter between a customer and a company representative sets the customer’s impression of the company forever.


The process of listening to analysts’ telephone calls for the purpose of maintaining quality. Monitoring can be (a) silent, where analysts do not know when they are being monitored; (b) side-by-side, where the person monitoring sits next to the analyst and observes calls or; (c) record and review, where calls are recorded and then later played back and assessed. Also known as call monitoring, position monitoring, or service observation.

Multilevel or Multitiered Service Desk

A service desk that is controlled by the service desk manager and provides more than one level of support from within a single organization.


The integration of text, graphics, audio, and video information in a single workstation or software.

Needs Analysis/Assessment
A term used in the training and development field that describes the process that a trainer or instructional designer uses to determine what a group of learners needs in a training program or a class.

Network Control Center (NCC)

A service desk or support center whose primary function is operating and supporting a network. See Network Operations Center.

Network Environment

See Local Area Network and Wide Area Network.

Network Management

Managing all aspects of a network, including configuration, performance, accounting, security, operations, and crisis management.

Network Monitoring

Systems by which networks can be managed.

Network Operations Center (NOC)

A networked call center environment where people and equipment monitor real-time conditions across sites, change routing thresholds as necessary, and coordinate events that affect base staffing levels. Also known as a traffic control center.

Network Security

Managing the physical and logical accessibility of your network resources. Physical includes safeguarding the actual equipment; logical includes controlling customer access to network resources.

Next Available Agent (NAA)

A call distribution method that sends calls to the next analyst who becomes available. The method seeks to maintain an equal load across skill groups or services. When there is no queue, the NAA reverts to the longest available agent.
Noise-canceling Headset
A headset equipped with technology that reduces background noise.

Non-ACD In-Calls
Inbound calls that are directed to an analyst’s extension rather than to a general group. These may be personal calls or calls from customers who dial the analyst’s extension. Except for family and personal business, these types of calls should be kept to a minimum since they distort call forecasts. Once a customer obtains an analyst’s direct telephone number, they never forget it.

Nonproblem Contact

A call to the support center where the customer requests information, inquires about the status of a case, or simply dials the wrong number; there is no case opened with this type of contact.

North American Numbering Plan (NANP)

Refers to the assignment and management of the area code system for North America.


Communicating the nature or severity of a problem (such as a power outage) to customer representatives so they can take steps to mitigate the impact on their organizations.

Not-ready State

A state in which support center professionals are logged on, but are neither involved in a call or contact handling activity nor available to handle a contact.

(1) A quantified, specific statement identifying what a service desk or support center will accomplish over a period of time, such as “reduce total cost of support by 15 percent during Q3” or “decrease customer downtime by twenty-five hours per quarter during Q4.” (2) The defined purpose or aim of a process, an activity, or an organization as a whole. Objectives are usually expressed as measurable targets. The term objective is also informally used to mean a requirement.


A measure expressed as a percentage of the total sign-in time spent by an analyst handling transactions and doing any necessary work related to that transaction. Occupancy is the percentage of time analysts are handling calls versus waiting for calls to arrive. For a half-hour, the calculation is (Call Volume × Average handling Time in Seconds) ÷ (Number of Agents × 1,800 seconds). See Adherence to Schedule.

Occupancy Percentage (OCC%)
The occupancy percentage is the sum of average talk time, after-call work, and available/ total staffed hours. Also known as efficiency.

Offered Calls

All of the attempts callers make to reach the call center. There are three possibilities for offered calls: (a) they can get busy signals; (b) they can be answered by the system, but hang up before reaching a representative; (c) they can be answered by a representative. Offered call reports in ACDs usually refer only to the calls that the system receives.


Periods of time other than the call center’s busiest periods. Also describes periods of time when long-distance carriers provide lower rates.


When a telephone handset is in the cradle, it is idle or “on-the-hook” (the term dates from phones that had hooks for hanging up the earpiece). When a handset is “off-the- hook,” it is ready to be used.

One-time Survey

Surveys that are conducted at irregular intervals and are typically used to evaluate satisfaction levels with current products and services.

Ongoing Survey

Surveys that are completed as soon as possible after a call or incident is closed. Ongoing surveys measure the quality of that specific incident.

Online Documentation

Information such as policies and procedures or solutions to problems that are stored electronically and are accessible to the service desk or support center.

Open Calls

Service requests received (by phone) and logged but not yet resolved; the difference between the number of calls logged and the number of calls closed. See Open Requests.

Open Requests/Open Cases/Open Incidents/Open Tickets

Service requests received and logged but not yet resolved.

Open Systems Interconnection (OSI)

A reference model for networks developed by the International Standards Organization. In this model, the network function’s seven layers are connected and each layer builds on the services provided by those under it.

Operating Costs
Expenses that provide no valued assets to the enterprise, such as sales and administration (salaries).

Operational Level Agreement (OLA)

An agreement between the internal support organizations (IT) or teams that define the responsibilities, roles, and expectations for the factors necessary to achieve the SLAs.

Opportunity Cost

A cost that is used when deciding between investment choices. Opportunity cost represents the revenue that would have been generated by using the resources in a different way. For example, the opportunity cost of purchasing a new server may include the loss of interest that the money would otherwise have earned in the bank.


Establishing a quantitative goal based on the best performance with respect to some appropriate selection criteria. For example, with respect to cost, the optimum response time is likely not the fastest possible response time.

Outbound Call

A call placed from the service desk or support center to a customer or other external person.


To hire a consultant or third-party vendor to deliver all or a portion of the services normally provided by an internal group; the vendor is responsible for meeting the service level agreement (SLA) mandated by the customer. The term generally refers to business operations that occur off-site from a pre-existing location, but it has come to describe any movement of functions to a third-party vendor.


Those third-party vendors that are not part of a company, and to whom a fee is paid for the service (support) provided. Outsourcers accept responsibility for meeting the customer’s SLAs.


Contracting with another company to provide services on another company’s premises that the organization would otherwise employ its own staff to perform.


Service requests that have been logged but not resolved. See Open Calls.

Calls that flow from one group or site to another.


Usually used in the context of the service desk or support center analyst who is assigned to the service request and is responsible for that service request until satisfactory resolution is been reached, regardless of where the service request has been assigned. Also known as call/problem ownership. See Assignment.

A financial report that shows the profit and loss information for a revenue-generating support center.

Pareto Principle

Named after the nineteenth-century economist Vilfredo Pareto, the Pareto principle says that 80 percent of the value of any activity is the result of 20 percent of the effort.

Passive Information

Information that people have but do not know they need to share until they are asked to do so.

Password Security

The prevention of unauthorized use of a system, device, or program by checking customer passwords. Password security problems and requests are a common service request for service desks and support centers.

Peak Periods

Times of the day or days of the week when the support center receives a predictably higher than average number of service requests.

Peaked Call Arrival

A surge of traffic beyond random variation; a spike that occurs in a short period of time.

Percent Allocation

A term used to describe the allocation of “800” calls among multiple contact centers by percentage points. In practice, service control point centers would be instructed to send 30 percent of the calls to Center A, 50 percent to Center B, and 20 percent to Center C.

Percent Utilization

Computed by dividing the total time a support center analyst spent handling calls and contacts by the total time the support center analyst was ready to handle calls and contacts. (Ready time is calculated by subtracting the not-ready time from the total time the support center analysts were logged on.)

Percent of Requests Solved

The number of service requests resolved at a specific support level, expressed as a percentage of total requests received.

Periodic Survey

A survey that is planned and scheduled on a periodic basis (normally annually) and that measures customers’ overall satisfaction levels with a support center’s products, services, and personnel.


The unauthorized use or copying of software.

Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)

Basic telephone service: a single line with a dial tone and no call processing or applications


Also known as the Deming cycle, Plan-Do-Check-Act is a four-stage cycle for process management, devised by Edward Deming.
• Plan: Design or revise processes that support IT services.
• Do: Implement the plan and manage the processes.
• Check: Measure the processes and IT services, compare with objectives, and
produce reports.
• Act: Plan and implement changes to improve the processes.


An activity responsible for creating one or more plans.


The type of computer operating system used, such as Microsoft Windows and MacOS, as well as mobile operating systems like Droid and iOS.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly application hosting environment configurations.


Management’s formally documented expectations and intentions. Policies are used to direct decisions and to ensure the consistent and appropriate development and implementation of processes, standards, roles, activities, IT infrastructures, etc. They a re part of a plan of action that guides decisions and behaviors based on what is best for the organization.

Portfolio Management

The process for managing the portfolio of services. Portfolio management includes the value to the business of existing and proposed new IT services, as well as the need to create new IT services and retire IT services that are no longer of value. Detailed planning and implementation is carried out as part of the service planning process.

Portfolio of Services

A published description of all IT services. The portfolio is maintained by the service provider and includes all IT services, whether they are live, in development, or proposed new services.

Potential Available Time

The amount of time analysts are available for direct phone support work, excluding holidays, vacation, sick time, and training. Potential available time includes project work and other off-phone requirements. A standard operating procedure.


A de facto standard developed and used extensively by the UK government and widely recognized and used in the private sector, both in the UK and internationally. It embodies established and proven best practices in project management. See Project Management.


(1) A status assigned to a task that determines its precedence for receiving resources. This can be a processing priority in a computer or a support priority queue for emergencies or identifying “important” clients to be handled first. (2) The relative assessment of an activity in relation to other activities. The characteristic of preceding, or having priority over, something or someone else. (3) In ITIL, a priority involves assessing the impact, urgency, and expected effort required to resolve an incident.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX)

A private phone switching system that connects telephone extensions to each other and to the external phone network. The PBX handles basic business telephone functions, such as call forwarding and conference calling.


A PBX that is equipped with ACD functionality.


Taking action to reduce or prevent problems, questions, or disruptions from occurring.


(1) The words “problem” and “call” are often used as all-encompassing terms for customer requests received from various communication channels (such as e-mail); however, since many customers contact the service desk for information, not just problems, the term service request is usually more appropriate. (2) A condition of the IT infrastructure that is identified through incidents with similar symptoms or a significant incident that is indicative of an error for which the cause is not yet known. The root cause of one or more incidents. See Service Request.

Problem Control

Part of the problem management process. The process of identifying the underlying causes of incidents to prevent future recurrence.

Problem Determination

The process of identifying the cause of a problem in order to resolve the problem. Also known as problem isolation, problem solving, and troubleshooting.

Problem Diagnosis

The actions leading to the acknowledgement of an error, localization of the malfunction, and establishment of the cause.

Problem Management

The process of minimizing the adverse impact of incidents and problems on the business that are caused by errors within the IT infrastructure.

Problem Management System

An application or system that automates the problem management process of logging calls and service requests, handling service requests, elevation, tracking, and reporting. As noted in the list above, the terms service management system and solution management system may better describe this application. Also, the term problem management system is often confused with call management system. See Call Management System.

Problem Resolution Database

A database of information used to associate known solutions with particular problems and used by the service desk or support center analyst to diagnose and resolve service requests. Similar to a knowledge base system.

Problem Solving and Troubleshooting (PST)

The techniques and questions used to solve problems. Problem solving and trouble- shooting has an extensive set of methodologies that can be used to gather information about a problem and solve it quickly.

Problem Tracking

The process of monitoring and updating the status of a service request continuously, from the time it is received to time it is closed, and using this information to identify trends in the location and nature of the problems.

Problem Tracking System

An application used to track open and closed problem records or service requests.


A set or series of instructions used to perform a specific task, sometimes referred to as work instructions.


A structured set of activities designed to accomplish a specific objective. A process takes one or more defined inputs and turns them into defined outputs. A process may include any of the roles, responsibilities, tools, and management controls required to reliably deliver the outputs. A process may define policies, standards, guidelines, activities, and work instructions, if they are needed. A series of tasks (or procedures) that are required and the sequence in which they must be performed.

Process Redesign

The method used to achieve business process re-engineering. See Business Process Re-engineering.

Process Time

The total time required to process a customer’s service request including initial communication (via telephone, e-mail, or other method), diagnosis, research, resolution, follow-up, and closing the request. See Call Cycle Time.

Profit Center

An accounting term that refers to a department or function in the organization that generates revenue for the parent company or organization.


Work planned with a specific beginning and end that is distinct from ongoing, day-to-day work and is intended to achieve specific goals within a specified period of time. A plan or proposal that requires the combined efforts of individuals and organizations and that encompasses the resources, budget, and tasks to which each responsible party is assigned.

Project Management

The discipline of planning, organizing, securing, and managing resources to achieve specific goals. Two popular methodologies for project management are from the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the UK Cabinet Office (PRINCE2).

Project Management Institute (PMI)

A not-for-profit membership association for the project management profession that advances the project management profession through globally recognized standards and certifications, collaborative communities, an extensive research program, and professional development opportunities. PMI issues the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

Project Management Office (PMO)

The department or group that defines and maintains the standards of process, generally related to project management, within the organization.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

A widely recognized certification for project management issued by PMI.


Specifications describing the rules and procedures that products (such as network devices and servers and clients) should follow to communicate with one another or to perform functions on a network. If products from different manufacturers use the same protocols, the devices can communicate.

Quality Control
The documented, procedural process for ensuring that all of the activities involved in providing services or products meet quality standards.

Quantitative Forecasting

Using statistical techniques to forecast future events. The major categories of quantitative forecasting include time series and explanatory approaches. Time series techniques use past trends to forecast future events. Explanatory techniques attempt to reveal linkages between two or more variables. See Judgmental Forecasting.


A “waiting line,” such as for the problem reports that analysts will handle. Items can be queued for processing on a computer or customers can be on hold in a telephone queue.

Queue Time

Queue time occurs after delay and before ring time. See Delay.


The act of requesting information from a database, or the statement used to request that information.

Quick Win

An improvement activity that is expected to provide a return on investment in a short period of time with relatively little cost and effort.

Quality Assurance

The process responsible for ensuring that the quality of a product, service, or process will provide its intended value. A systematic way of ensuring that all the activities necessary to design, develop, and implement services that satisfy the requirements of the organization and of customers take place as planned and in a cost-effective manner.

Reader Boards
A visual display, usually mounted on the wall or ceiling, that provides real-time and historical information on queue conditions, analyst status, and call center performance.

Ready State

When a support center analyst is logged onto the telephone system and is available to handle a telephone call or contact.

Real-time Data

Information on current conditions that is presented without delay. Some real-time information is real-time in the strictest sense (e.g., calls in queue and current longest wait). Some real-time reports require some history (e.g., the last six calls or ten minutes) to make an accurate calculation (e.g., service level and average speed of answer).

Real-time Management

Adjusting staffing and thresholds in the systems and network in response to current queue conditions.

Real-time Support

A support model in which all telephone calls are taken live and either solved or disposed of within a designated time frame (e.g., twelve minutes of talk time and five minutes of wrap-up time) and that allows for scheduled time on and off the phones.

Received Calls

Calls detected and seized by a trunk; received calls will either be abandoned or answered by an analyst.

Recognition, Prioritization, and Mobilization (RPM)

The core of disaster recovery planning: recognize the threat, prioritize it, and mobilize resources to stop it. Failure at any stage exposes your company or organization to predictable surprises. Given the stakes involved, RPM should count among every business or organization leader’s core responsibilities.7

Random Call Arrival

The normal, random variation in how incoming calls arrive. See Peaked Call Arrival.


Returning a CI or IT service to a working state. Recovery of an IT service often includes restoring data to a known consistent state. After recovery, further steps may be needed before the IT service can be made available to users

Recovery Point Objective

The point in time to which data will be restored after the recovery of an IT service. This may involve the loss of data. For example, a recovery point objective of one day may be supported by daily backups and up to twenty-four hours of data may be lost. Recovery point objectives for each IT service should be negotiated, agreed upon, and documented.

Recovery Time Objective

The maximum time allowed for recovery of an IT service following an interruption. The service level to be provided may be less than normal service level targets. Recovery time objectives for each IT service should be negotiated, agreed upon, and documented.


A software CI that is introduced into the test, and subsequently live, environment. In most cases, the release will also include documentation and possibly hardware.

Release Management

The process responsible for planning, scheduling, and controlling the movement of release to test and live environments. The primary objective of release management is to ensure that the integrity of the live environment is protected and that the correct components are released.

Release Unit

The level or complexity at which software of a given type, or a particular software item, is normally released into the test and life environments; for example, a full system, a suite, a program, or a single module.

Remote Control/Access

Systems that allow the support team member to take control of a customer’s desktop or workstation remotely.

Response Time

The time it takes the support center to respond to a transaction that has arrived from a customer. Response time applies to any contact channel a customer uses.

Responsive Support
A support model in which the support center responds to e-mails, chat requests, and other contact channels and has complete control over the timing of the response.
Request for Change (RFC)
A formal proposal to change the nature or status of a system item that is under configuration control.
A formal statement of what is needed; for example, a service level requirement, a project requirement, or the required deliverables for a process.


An action taken to repair the root cause of an incident or problem, or to implement a workaround.

Response Time

A measure of the time taken to complete an operation or transaction. Used in capacity management as a measure of IT infrastructure performance, and in incident management as a measure of the time taken to answer the phone or to start diagnosis.


A caller who “retries” when they get a busy signal.

Retrial Tables

Sometimes used to calculate trunks and other system resources required. They assume that some callers will make additional attempts to reach the call center if they get busy signals. See Erlang B.

Return on Investment (ROI)

A financial calculation used to determine the time it will take to recover the costs of an investment (or payback period).

Return Rate

The percentage of surveys completed and submitted.
Identifying the proper balance of outsourcing and other sourcing options to ensure financial and operational effectiveness.


The possibility of suffering harm or loss. In quantitative risk management this is calculated as how likely it is that a specific threat will exploit a particular vulnerability.

Risk Assessment

The initial steps of risk management; involves analyzing the value of assets to the business, identifying threats to those assets, and evaluating how vulnerable each asset is to those threats.

Risk Management

The process responsible for identifying, assessing, and managing risks. Risk management can be quantitative (based on numerical data) or qualitative.


A set of responsibilities defined in a process and assigned to a person or team. One person or team may have multiple roles. For example, the roles of configuration manager and change manager are often carried out by a single person.


A synonym for deployment, most often used to refer to complex or phased deployments.

Root Cause

The underlying or original cause of an incident or problem.

Root Cause Analysis

The analysis performed to eliminate 10 percent of the problems reported to a support center each month. Once you understand the symptoms of the problems reported and the underlying root cause of the problem, a final fix can be put in place that eliminates the problem from the infrastructure, application, or business process. Root cause analysis is critical to building an effective knowledge base, raising customer satisfaction levels, and solving a problem once instead of many times.


A responsibility to assist with all products or areas of assistance that is shared between all or most support partners.

Round Robin Distribution

A method of distributing calls to analysts according to a predetermined list.

A statistical method used to estimate the characteristics of a certain population.


The process of determining the specific assignment (tasks and time frames) by which people are required to meet an SLA.

Scheduling Exception

When analysts are involved in activities outside of their normal, planned, and scheduled activities.

Screen-Human Harmony

The efficient questioning and logging of information into a database via a keyboard. It is common for some support analysts to take handwritten notes about a problem and then transcribe those notes into the problem tracking system. This process is generally acknowledged to be inefficient, time-consuming, and expensive and should be discouraged by providing training on how to take notes during a call and with coaching.

Screen Monitoring

A system capability that enables a supervisor or manager to remotely monitor the activity on analyst’s computer terminals.


The capability of an ACD system to communicate with a database through CTI software so that information the caller appears on the analyst’s screen as the same moment the caller is connected to that analyst.


An iterative, incremental framework for project management often seen in agile software development, a type of software engineering. Although the Scrum approach was originally suggested for managing product development projects, its use has focused on the management of software development projects, and it can be used to run software maintenance teams or as a general project/program management approach.

Second-level Support (also Tier 2)

See Level 2 Support.


A tool that automatically diagnoses software application problems and attempts to fix those problems automatically, without human intervention. Such applications store important .exe files in a locked, user-proof folder within the computer, and automatically compares each file to the stored file in order to detect critical changes each time a program is opened. If changes have been made, the program will restore the last working file without interruption.


A web interface that allows customers to search through an online knowledge base for a predefined resolution, eliminating the need to speak or communicate with a support center analyst. Customers are able to solve their own problems or answer their questions without the intervention of a support center professional.


A web interface or logging system that allows customers to create tickets directly in service management software.

Service Catalog

A complete listing of services, applications, processes, hardware, and support groups/ people that will support the services in the support center.

Service Continuity Plan (SCP)

A plan defining the steps required to recover one or more IT services. The plan will also identify the triggers for invocation, the people to involve, the communications to send, etc. The service continuity plan should be part of a business continuity plan.

Service Culture

A customer-oriented culture; the objective of a service culture is customer satisfaction and servicing the customer to achieve their business objectives.

Service Delivery

Core IT service management processes that have both a strategic and tactical focus. In ITIL, these are service level management, capacity management, IT service continuity management, availability management, and financial management for IT services.

Service Desk

The single point of contact (SPOC) between the service provider and its users. A typical service desk manages incidents and service requests and handles communication with the users.

Service Hours

The agreed-upon time period when a particular IT service should be available. For example, “Monday-Friday, 07:00 to 22:00, except for United States and federal holidays.” Service hours should be defined in an service level agreement (SLA).

Service Improvement Plan (SIP)

A formal plan for implementing improvements to a process or IT service. An SIP is managed as part of a continuous improvement process.

Service Level

A statistical criterion for measuring a successful service. The expression of an aspect of a service in definitive and quantifiable terms, it specifies a term in an SLA and quantifies its associated measure (e.g., the percentage of total calls answered within a specific time, such as “80 percent in one minute”).

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

A formal agreement between the customer(s) and the IT service provider, specifying service levels and the terms under which a service or a package of services are provided to the customer.

Service Level Management (SLM)

The strategy and tactics of defining, achieving, and maintaining required levels of IT service to the business user population within the organization. It is designed to optimize and provide cost-effective delivery of IT services that are aligned to business requirements.

Service Request

(1) A request from a user for information, advice, or a standard change. (2) Request for change in service, such as password reset or adding a printer. A service request is different from an incident because it does not indicate an error in a system or process.

Service Support

Core IT service management processes that have an operational focus, including incident management, problem management, configuration management, change management, and release management. Service support also includes the service desk.

Shadow Information

The information that people are looking for but cannot find because they do not know where to look. This type of information is the most expensive for an organization because so much time is wasted trying to find the required information.


An adjustment factor applied to support center staffing calculations that takes into account other variables, such as breaks, sickness, vacations, meetings, IT emergencies, training, etc.

Single Point of Contact (SPOC)

A term used to describe the support center’s role as the customer’s one-stop resource for all support-related issues and requests.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. See Lean Six Sigma.

Skills-based Routing and Reporting

The ACD capability to route and track transactions by type of call or application (e.g., sales, service, etc.) versus the traditional method of routing and tracking by trunk group and agent group. Skills-based routing also matches a caller’s specific needs with an analyst that has the skills to handle that call in real-time.


Contacts are routed to skills and splits by the ACD system.

Skill Group

A collection of support center analysts who share a common set of skills.


Targets in service level agreements and project plans should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

Smooth Call Arrival

Calls that arrive evenly across a period of time; virtually non-existent in incoming call and contact support environments.

Social Media

The term used to refer collectively to the web-based and mobile publishing tools that are used to facilitate social networking.

Social Networking

Participating in activities based on connections to and relationships with other people. This term is most often used to refer to activities involving social media, but is not restricted to media-based activity.

Social Support

Providing support using social networks and/or the tools of social media.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Providing consumers with the capability to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure. The applications are accessible from various client devices through a thin-client interface, such as a web browser (e.g., web-based e-mail). The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure, including the network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application capabilities, with the possible exception of limited user-specific application configuration settings.

Software Configuration Item

System or application software, in the form of source code, if possible, accompanied by the corresponding documentation.

Software Control and Distribution

Securing all of the software configuration items and ensuring that only tested and correct versions of authorized software are made available to production.

Software/Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC)

The process of creating or altering software systems and the models and methodologies that people use to develop these systems.

Software Release

All of the new, modified, or existing software configuration items that are made available for use at any given time.


The step-by-step resolution to a customer’s problem. The solution contains a description of the problem, the symptoms of the problem, and the customer’s description of the problem and other information, which may aid others in determining a solution. In knowledge management, a solution is the content required to capture the answer to a problem or question.


The process of determining staffing needs and identifying the resources that will be utilized to fulfill those needs.


Used in job titles (e.g., technical support specialist). A specialist is someone with particular expertise, as opposed to a generalist. See Generalist.

Speech Recognition

The capability of a voice processing system to decipher spoken words and phrases.

Staffing Levels

The number of support personnel required to deliver on SLA commitments.

Staffing Model

A tool used to determine the number of support personnel required to deliver on SLA commitments.


Any person or group that can contact the support center for support, such as customers, product or service owners, employees, associates, partners, contractors, and/or suppliers.


A mandatory requirement. Examples include ISO/IEC 20000, an internal security standard for UNIX configuration, or a government standard for the maintenance of financial records. The term is also used to refer to a code of practice or specification published by a standards organization, such as ISO or BSI.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Manual

A manual that includes everything support center analysts need to know to perform their jobs. Incorporated in the manual are the policies, procedures, call escalation charts, contact lists, supported environments, and service level agreements.


A four-tier categorization scheme in a service desk or support center. The acronym stands for subject, type, element, and module.


A careful method or plan.


The first level of the four-tier hierarchy of classifying solutions in the case management system. This broad categorization is designed to serve as a catchall group of headings. The subject category is primarily used for organization.


The person who has frontline responsibility for a group of analysts. Typical ratios are one supervisor to every ten to fifteen analysts. However, support operations can have one supervisor for every five people, depending upon the complexity of what is being supported and the terms of the SLA. Generally, supervisors are equipped with special telephones and computer terminals that enable them to monitor analyst activities.

Supervisor Monitor

A computer monitor that enables supervisors to monitor the call-handling statistics of their supervisory groups or teams.

Support Center

A term used to incorporate the multiple meanings for help desk, service desk, and contact center; an entity that provides technical support to internal “end user” employees or external customers.

Support Center Analyst (SCA)

The frontline technical support professionals who receive and handle tickets. These professionals are responsible for providing customers with information, restoring service, providing specific services, and escalating tickets to a higher level of support. These individuals are typically technical generalists. SCAs are referred to as agents by other organizations.

Support Center Director (SCD)

Previously referred to as director of support. Support center directors are the management professionals who are responsible for leading the support organization as a whole, rather than a specific support center. Their responsibilities may include overall service delivery, strategic direction, business alignment, financial accountability, and performance reporting. In addition to the support center(s), this person may also oversee other departments involved in technical support, such as desktop support. Other possible titles for this position include senior director, senior manager, or vice president. Support center managers report directly to this individual.

Support Center Manager (SCM)

The management professionals who manage a team of support center analysts and/ or team leads while executing the operational and tactical plans of the support center and satisfying customer and business needs. Their responsibilities may include recruiting and hiring, performance management, monitoring and reporting metrics, and ensuring that process are followed and service levels are met. Other possible titles include help desk manager or service desk manager. This position typically reports to the support center director.

Support Center Team Lead (SCTL)
Previously referred to as support supervisor. The technical support professionals who oversee the day-to-day activities of a team of support staff. These professionals serve as the communication link between the team and the manager, as a coach or mentor to support staff, and are often the first point of internal escalation within the support center. Other possible titles include coordinator, supervisor, or senior analyst.

Support Group

A group of people with technical skills; support groups provide the technical support for all of the IT service management processes.

Support Partner

Individuals, groups, or departments that assist the service desk or support center or its customers, but are not part of the service desk or support center budget.

Support Team

All individuals, groups, or departments who play a role in the delivery of support in response to customer requests. The members of the support team may not necessarily all report to the same manager or work in the same department.

Support Technologies

Technologies used to provide support in all its aspects. Some examples include ticket- tracking systems, IVR, remote control, ACD, chat, and knowledge management tools.


A new business mind set where an idea or project draws contributors driven by an intrinsic motivation to tackle a technological challenge.

T1 Circuit Telephony
A high-speed digital circuit used for voice, data, or video, with a bandwidth of 1.544 megabits per second. T1 circuits offer the equivalent of twenty-four analog trunks.

Tacit Knowledge

What someone knows that lets a person accomplish a task(s). It may be difficult or even impossible for someone, including an expert, to describe how that task is actually accomplished.


The middle of three levels of planning and delivery (strategic, tactical, and operational). Tactical activities include the medium-term plans required to achieve specific objectives, typically over a period of weeks to months.

Talk Time

The total time that a support center analyst is on the telephone, speaking with a customer.


The technical word for a knowledge tree or a tree of related concepts that organizes a collection of documents. For example, the digits of the Dewey Decimal System used by libraries are a taxonomy.

Technical Support

The process responsible for the aspects of supporting IT services. Technical support defines the roles of support groups, as well as the tools, processes, and procedures required.


Using telecommunications to work from home or other locations instead of at an organization’s office.

Text Chat (Live Chat)

A support technology that enables a website visitor to click on a “Contact Us” button and obtain real-time support. The browser window opens a secondary window in which the visitor and a web-based analyst can conduct a real-time text chat session. The standards and technologies that provide this capability are in development. See Internet “Call Through” Contact.

Third-line Support

The third level in a hierarchy of support groups involved in the resolution of incidents and the investigation of problems. Each level contains more specialist skills or has more time/resources.

Third-level Support (or Tier 3)

See Level 3 Support.


A threat is anything that might exploit vulnerability. Any potential cause of an incident can be considered a threat. For example, a fire is a threat that could exploit the vulnerability of flammable floor coverings. This term is commonly used in information security management and IT service continuity management, but it also applies to other areas, such as problem and availability management.


The value of a metric that should cause an alert to be generated or management action to be taken; for example, “a priority 1 incident not solved within four hours,” “more than five soft-disk errors in an hour,” or “more than ten failed changes in a month.”


(1) A sequentially assigned tracking unit in service management software. (2) An alternative term for a case.

Tiered Support Model

A support model in which an incident, problem, request for change, or question moves from tier 1 support (basic) to tier 3 or 4 (the highest or most sophisticated level) based on time limits and service level commitments.

Total Contact Ownership

The principle that the individual who receives the initial contact is the individual who is responsible for that customer problem, incident, question, or error until the case is closed, even if the case is forwarded to another individual or group. Also known as “touch and hold,” or, in the ITIL framework, single point of contact (SPOC).

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

A financial calculation used to analyze the direct and indirect costs of owning and using hardware and software.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

A methodology for managing continuous improvement by using a quality management system. TQM establishes a culture involving all people in the organization in a process of continuous monitoring and improvement.

Total Ticket Ownership (TTO)

The concept that the service desk or support center is responsible for ensuring that an incident is resolved within the terms of the SLA and/or escalated as appropriately. Also known as cradle-to-grave support.

Traffic Control Center

See Network Operations Center. Transfer
Passing an incident to a more capable resource after some preliminary handling.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)

The protocols that govern the exchange of sequential data. TCP/IP was designed by the US Department of Defense to link dissimilar computers across many kinds of networks. It has since become a common standard for commercial equipment and applications.

Trend Analysis

The analysis of changes in a given item of information over a period of time.

True Calls per Hour

The number of actual calls an individual or group handled divided by occupancy for that period of time.


A telephone circuit linking two switching systems. Also known as a line, exchange line, or circuit.

Trunk Group

A collection of trunks associated with a single peripheral and usually used for a common purpose.

Trunk Idle

The number of trunks in the trunk group that are not busy.

Trunk Load

The load that trunks carry; includes both delay and talk time.

Trunks in Service

The number of functioning trunks in the trunk group.


The second level of the four-tier hierarchy of classifying solutions in the case management system. This category further defines the subject and contains broad references to types of hardware, software, and other items defined in the subject.

Underpinning Contract (UC)
Legal contract with third parties who will provide support to the organization.

Unified Call Distributor (UCD)

A simple system that distributes calls to a group of analysts and provides some reports. A UCD is not as sophisticated as an ACD, and UCDs usually use simple hunt groups for call distribution.

Unified Messaging

Unified messaging integrates e-mail, voicemail, fax, and mobile telephone messaging (text) into a single managed communications framework that allows office workers and telecommuters to have access to all of their communications capabilities from anywhere, at any time, within the world of support center management.

Unit Cost

The cost of providing a single item.

Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge (USMBOK)

The USMBOK is derived from the published literature and the accumulated experiences of practitioners in the service management profession


A measure of how long it will be until an incident, problem, or change has significant impact on the business, or an assessment of the necessary speed of solving an incident of a certain impact. Impact and urgency are used to assign priority.


A person who uses IT services on a day-to-day basis.


The amount of time an analyst spends on the phone compared to doing other activities.

Variable Costs
Costs that are based on usage or other variables, and may include office supplies, paper, etc.


A third-party, external company that supplies goods or services to the support center or customer.

Vendor Management

Reviewing vendor performance and responsiveness through statistical problem reports.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

The server computing model enabling desktop virtualization, encompassing the hard- ware and software systems required to support the virtualized environment. Sometimes referred to as a virtual desktop interface. See Virtualization.

Virtual Support Center

An approach to enterprise-wide support center management that treats several geographically dispersed support centers as if they were a single support center.

Virtual Worker

A worker who is physically located somewhere other than fellow members of a team or company, but who is able to act as if there were no separation. For example, a support center staff may add virtual workers who are not in the support center, but who answer phones or e-mail as if they were present. There may also be virtual teams, and these may be combined into a virtual workforce.


The creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as a hardware platform, operating system, a storage device, or network resources. Virtualization is a trend across the IT spectrum, including desktop, server, and virtual application environments.


A statement of an organization’s values, describing how the group wants to be perceived by others.

Voice Processing

A generic term that refers to any combination of voice technologies, including voicemail, automated attendant, audiotext, interactive voice response, and faxback.

Voice Recognition

The capability of a voice processing system to decipher spoken words and phrases. Same as speech recognition.

Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Also known as internet telephony, this technology allows voice signals to travel over the data network as a series of packets, which are reassembled on the receiving end.


A weakness that could be exploited by a threat (e.g., an open firewall port or password that is never changed). A missing control is also considered to be a vulnerability.

White Noise
Sound that contains every frequency within the range of human hearing.


An open-source tool that enables online collaboration and the streamlined aggregation of knowledge. Not a great candidate for knowledge management.


A character that takes on a special meaning in an advanced search. For instance, * matches any string of characters.


Reducing or eliminating the impact of an incident or problem for which a full resolution is not yet available. For example, by restarting a failed CI. Workarounds for problems are documented in known error records; workarounds for incidents that do not have associated problem records are documented in the incident record. It is a short-term solution put in place for the customer while locating or developing a long- term solution.

Workforce Management

Methods of determining the most efficient allocation of personnel to meet the support center’s staffing requirements. It includes determining staffing levels, determining analyst availability, enlisting additional resources (both external and internal), and scheduling staff to meet SLAs.

Work in Progress (WIP)

A status that means an activity has started but is not yet complete. It is commonly used as a status for incidents, problems, changes, etc.


The resources required to deliver an identifiable part of an IT service. Workloads may be categorized by users, groups of users, or functions within IT services. This is used to assist in analyzing and managing the capacity, performance, and utilization of configuration items and IT services.

Wrap-up Codes

Codes that support analysts enter on their phones or through the call management system to identify the types of calls they are handling. See Activity Codes.

X Factor
The factor or series of factors that can be the difference between success and failure in any endeavor. For example, leadership, inspiration, intuition, and luck are all X factors.


A packet-switching standard for global networks, specified by the CCITT.

#, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z